AAP Rugby

Near-perfect Warriors put heat on McGregor

By AAP Newswire

Four weeks after arriving in Australia indefinitely, the Warriors celebrated their first victory of the NRL season by heaping more pressure on St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor.

With an 18-0 win at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday, the Warriors played like they had a home ground advantage - a stark contrast to the more fancied Dragons who struggled to fire a shot.

McGregor is three losses into a two-year deal but said he is not feeling the heat despite finishing second-last in 2019 and failing to strike a blow this season.

"It's been raised consistently," he said.

"I'm three games into a two year contract, I have good staff, we've made a lot of changes.

"I've got good people around me. I've got a football team I believe in, we've just got to go out and play well."

The Dragons looked fresh out of belief as they struggled to handle the Warriors who were near perfect on Saturday.

Showing no hints of disorganisation or distress given the incredible circumstances of their season so far, the Warriors ran rings around the Dragons with a near-perfect completion rate.

It was the first time in the NRL era a team completed more than 40 consecutive sets - and the Warriors were almost perfect making their first mistake in their 45th set.

"To be fair, I knew we hadn't made an error but until the end I didn't really take much notice," said Warriors coach Steve Kearney.

"Watching the footy over the last couple of days the takeaway from it was the team that had possession certainly were able to build some pressure on the opposition and coupled with that if you get a six again it magnifies.

"It just worked out for us today, that's probably putting it simply."

For the Dragons, it's been the tale of the season so far, sitting without a win after the first three rounds despite a team stacked with representative players.

In comparison, big, young forwards Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Eliesa Katoa were all the difference for the Warriors, both scoring a try in the first half.

Taunoa-Brown barged over in the seventh minute after Dragons fullback Matt Dufty bobbled the ball under the posts, while Katoa, the 20-year-old former rugby union schoolboy, made an impact at both ends of the field.

He scored the second try for the Warriors in the 25th minute when he caught a short ball from Kodi Nikorima ploughed through Ben Hunt on the line.

Minutes into the second half he pulled off a try-saving tackle on the line with Dragons prop Josh Kerr charging to score.

Nikorima scored the third try of the afternoon midway through the second half, darting through a tired defence.

Typically, Dragons skipper Cameron McInnes lead from the front with 59 tackles but his efforts were spoiled with the ball in hand as attack fizzled.

Halfback Hunt was hampered through the second half with a corked lower leg that should not prevent him lining up against Canterbury next week, while the Warriors lost Peta Hiku to a concerning rib injury.

The Warriors will face Penrith at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday.