After relocating from Auckland to New South Wales, The Warriors faced St George as both sides looked to pick up win number one in 2020.
The home-side, on paper, were the first on the boar, as a poor pick up from Matt Dufty underneath his own posts, allowed Jamayne Taunoa-Brown the gather the loose ball, and pick up the only the second try in the competition of the home-side.
The Warriors were on top in the opening 15 minutes, as Wayde Egan, Blake Green and Kodi Nikorima were controlling the tempo of the game and should have picked up a second, but Peter Hiku was caught on the last tackle.
The Dragons were starting to work their way back into the game after a couple of linebreaks from Corey Norman, but poor options on the last tackle allowed Stephen Kearney’s side to escape without conceding any points.
The lead was then stretched out to two tries, as Nikorima and Green linked up well, took the ball to the line and created space for young Eliesa Katoa, who crashed over from short range.
With half an hour of the game remaining, the Warriors crossed the whitewash once again, as Egan burrowed over from a short distance, but the hooker was held-up under the sticks.
Ill-discipline from the Dragons was allowing the Warriors to charge up the field with plenty of six-again calls, and after completing 22 sets out of 22, were searching for a third try before the break.
HALF-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 12-0 St George Illawarra Dragons
After a penalty against Agnatius Paasi for a late tackle on Corey Norman put the Dragons in good field position, but Josh Kerr dropped the ball on just the second-tackle to relieve the Warriors.
A harsh-decision against Norman for a tackle in the air on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck allowed Nikorima to extend the Warriors lead to 14.
Nikorima then picked up a try of his own 10 minutes later, as his line break set up a quick play the ball from Blake Green and after picking up the ball at first receiving, stepped through the tackle of Norman and scored.
A fourth Warriors try nearly followed just minutes later. Another error under the high ball from Dufty left the home-side inside the Dragons 10-metre line.
A high kick rebounded off the upright and after throwing the ball around on the last, the visitors snuffed out the play.
With 15 minutes remaining, the Warriors completed the 40th set out of forty, as the Dragons couldn’t get a grip on the game in the closing stages.
The Warriors finally made an attacking error in the 74th minute, but their defence still held strong, as Ken Maumalo stripped the ball from Mikaele Ravalawa in a desperate tackle to keep the Dragons to nil.
The Warriors picked up their first win of the season, as the Dragons still searched for two points on 2020.
FULL-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 18-0 St George Illawarra Dragons
New Zealand Warriors
Tuivasa-Sheck, Herbert, Hiku, Beale, Maumalo, Nikorima, Green, Taunoa-Brown, Egan, Blair, Harris, Katoa, Papali’i
Interchanges: Lawton, Vuniyayawa, Paasi, Murchie
Tries: Taunoa-Brown, Katoa, Nikorima
Goals: Nikorima (3/4)
St. George Illawarra Dragons
Dufty, Pereira, Wiliame, Lomax, Ravalawa, Norman, Hunt, K. Sims, McInnes, Vaughn, Frizell, T. Sims, Graham
Interchanges: Kerr, Lawrie, Fuimoana, Aitken
Referee: C. Sutton
Touch Judges: Z. Przeklasa-Adamski, L. Kennedy,
Video Referee: B. Galea
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)