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NZ Warriors rampant in third straight win

Halfback Te Maire Martin has steered the NZ Warriors to within sight of the NRL top-eight with a five-star performance.

Fresh after a Round 13 bye and with most of their big-name stars back from injury, the Warriors piled on seven tries in a 42-12 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys at Townsville's QCB Stadium on Saturday night.


Martin, filling in for the injured veteran Shaun Johnson, threw the final pass for five of the Warriors' tries, while he laid on another for Rocco Berry with a kick.

Berry and star fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad scored two tries each, with the latter's second try being one of the best of the season, but the star was undoubtedly Martin.

After a mid-season slump, the Warriors have now won their last three matches with Martin wearing the No 7 jersey in the absence of Johnson, who is expected to return in next weekend's sold-out Melbourne Storm clash.

Nicoll-Klokstad, Berry, hooker Wayde Egan, prop Addin Fonua-Blake and back-rowers Kurt Capewell and Tohu Harris made their comebacks against the Cowboys and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is also closing in on a return.

The Warriors had a try to wing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak disallowed due to obstruction in the opening minutes, but the visitors were soon on the scoreboard after a piece of individual brilliance by Nicoll-Klokstad.

Prop Addin Fonua-Blake, who missed the previous game against the Dolphins in Round 12 due to disciplinary reasons, proved his commitment when he took on four defenders close to the line and carried them over to score.

When Dylan Walker combined with Martin to put second-rower Mitch Barnett over the Warriors' third try, they had scored 16 points in the opening 18 minutes in a near perfect start to the match.

Martin produced his fourth try assist when centre Rocco Berry juggled a bullet pass before regathering to cross in the 33rd minute and extend the Warriors lead to 22-0.

Fullback Scott Drinkwater finally got the Cowboys on the board just before halftime after backing up a long-range dummy half break by star five-eighth Tom Dearden.

Such was the first half dominance of the Warriors that prop Jackson Ford had ran 118 metres with the ball by the interval, while the Cowboys had made 60 more tackles than their opponents.

Ford finished the match with 173 metres while Fonua-Blake carried the ball 198m from 19 runs and Nicoll-Klokstad ran 251m at fullback.

The Warriors continued their domination in the second half, with Watene-Zelezniak scoring after picked up an overhead pass from Martin that hit the ground and strolling across the try-line in the 53rd minute.

Warriors centre Adam Pompey kicked his fifth goal of the match after Cowboys halfback Chad Townsend was penalised for tackling Kurt Capewell before he received the ball. 

Townsend and Warriors five-eighth Chanel Harris-Tavita were sensationally sin-binned over a flare up in the previous set, after Pompey and Marcelo Montoya had dragged Cowboys wing Kyle Feldt into touch.

Nicoll-Klokstad sealed the win when he kicked into the in-goal and capitalised on a piece of magic by Watene-Zelezniak, who managed to tap the ball back into the in-goal before it went dead.

But the Warriors were not done yet and Martin put a full stop on the win with a deft grubber into the in-goal for Berry to grab his second try in the 78th minute.

"We came here with plenty of confidence," Warriors head coach Andrew Webster said. "We knew if we did what we wanted to do we would get what we wanted.

"The boys were great. I thought the boys were really disciplined and smart, I just loved how ruthless we were early."

The Warriors host the Storm next Saturday night at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart (kick-off 7.30pm), with Johnson expected to return from a pectoral muscle injury, possibly along with Tuivasa-Sheck (hamstring). 

NZ Warriors 42 (Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2, Rocco Berry 2, Addin Fonua-Blake, Mitchell Barnett, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak tries; Adam Pompey 6 con, pen) North Queensland Cowboys 12 (Scott Drinkwater, Braidon Burns tries; Valentine Holmes 2 con). HT: 22-6


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