NRL 2022: Clinical approach pays off for NZ Warriors in season-best display against Brisbane Broncos

NZ Warriors coach Nathan Brown has revealed he implemented a safety-first gameplan for their clash with Brisbane Broncos on Saturday.

While at odds with his insistence the team would try to return to its free-wheeling roots this season, the approach produced the team's most complete performance of the season so far, earning a 20-6 win on the back of a clinical kicking game, direct forward running, and a rock-solid defence.

And after being plagued by errors and indiscipline through the first three rounds, you'll hear few complaints from the Warriors' fanbase regarding their revised tactics.

"We didn't come here and expect to play the greatest brand of footy, as far as entertaining," Brown said after the game.

"We scored a couple of nice tries, but we scaled our game back. A lot of our halves, hooker and fullback had never played a game together before, so that's a new one for us.

"To defend like we did, they’ve got some extremely gifted players who are dangerous and our cage (defence) was very good, like it was last week.

"They only got one try, from a kick, so we scaled back, toughed it out well and got a well-earned victory."

Shaun Johnson returned earlier than expected from his pectoral strain and made an immediate impact, using his no-frills kicking game to ensure the Broncos began the majority of their sets from deep within their own half.

Sorely missed over the last couple of weeks, his game management also came to the fore, forming a formidable spine with fellow half Chanel Harris-Tavita and fullback Reece Walsh - who were both impressive - in a combination which shows plenty of promise, after some previously inconsistent selections in those key positions.

Matt Lodge was outstanding for the Warriors against the Broncos.
Matt Lodge was outstanding for the Warriors against the Broncos. Photo credit: Photosport

Brown believed the best is yet to come from the 31-year-old, whose off-season acquisition had been severely under-valued.

"He's a very experienced player in a position where it's hard to find those players," he said.

"We were lucky that Shaun was from the Warriors and wanted to come home. When those types of blokes come on the market, with that type of skill and experience, it's hard for a club trying to go up the ladder to attract those players.

"We'd like to think that from this week to next Shaun's game will grow and he'll continue to grow, because he's got a very good skillset to play the position he plays and experience he's gained over the years."

Brown was also full of praise for prop Matt Lodge, who was a colossus through the middle of the park with Addin Fonua-Blake in a prop pairing fast becoming one of the NRL's best.

Lodge reeled off 175m worth of ball carries against his former team, while Fonua-Blake recorded 202m.

"I thought it was [Lodge's] best game since he's been at the club," said Brown. "He certainly delivered on what we spoke about during the week.

"I think he wanted to make a point of putting in a good, solid performance.

"Last week, both the big fellas had a couple of errors in their games, which if they had their time again wouldn't have happened.

"I didn't need to talk about it, because they addressed it themselves and they both started and finished the game with real purpose."

The challenge for the Warriors now is to prove they're capable of persisting with their clinical style of play, which they'll need on Friday against the wounded North Queensland Cowboys, who will be desperate to bounce back from their 28-4 pasting by Sydney Roosters on Saturday.

Join us at 8pm, Friday for live updates of NZ Warriors v North Queensland Cowboys