NRL: NZ Warriors pulverise error-ridden South Sydney Rabbitohs for third straight win

NZ Warriors have marched to their most emphatic win of the 2024 NRL season to date, crushing a hapless South Sydney Rabbitohs 34-4 at Accor Stadium on Saturday.

The Rabbitohs claimed the opening try but that was as good as it got for the hosts, who were thoroughly outplayed across their own park by a Warriors side missing a host of first-choice players but desperate to make a statement.

And make a statement, they did, running in six tries to one to record their third straight victory. The result catapults the Warriors up to third place in the competition standings.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was superb in his first outing of the season, registering a game-high 247 running metres and silencing any lingering debate about who should wear the No. 1 jersey.

Te Maire Martin may have done the same in his maiden appearance of the year, standing out alongside another excellent outing for halves partner Shaun Johnson - who bagged a brace of tries - and staking an undeniable claim to remain there long-term in the absence of injured Luke Metcalf.

But it was hooker Wayde Egan who made the most enduring mark on the contest, solidifying his place as one of the team's most critical cogs and raising his hand even higher for State of Origin contention.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad breaks for the Warriors.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad breaks for the Warriors. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Warriors' cause was helped by a Rabbitohs side that completed just 23 of their 39 sets, making 16 errors en route to their fourth loss of the season to plummet to the bottom of the ladder. 

The hosts needed just seven minutes to open the scoring, when Izaac Tui'tupou Thompson was unleashed on the outside and left Nicoll-Klokstad reaching for air with a big sidestep, finishing a 50m movement to dot down.

A mistake from the restart by Souths set the stage for the Warriors to respond immediately. Egan and Johnson's savvy misdirection opened a hole for Rocco Berry to latch on to his short ball to spin over in the tackle, the conversion edging the Warriors ahead.

More Rabbitohs errors allowed the Warriors a slew of opportunities to extend that lead, only for Addin Fonua-Blake to be held up over the line and Jazz Tevaga drop a certain try cold.

The Warriors made them pay with a double strike before the break. On the back of s econd-man play, Johnson laid on another short ball for Jackson Ford, the second-rower running back on a great line at speed to wrestle the ball down in the tackle.

Moments later, Nicoll-Klokstad exploded through the Rabbitohs' defensive line courtesy of a sumptuous no-looker from Egan, sending Johnson over under the bar for an 18-4 halftime lead.

The Warriors carried that momentum into the second half. In an almost carbon copy of their last try, Egan this time opened a chasm for Martin to burst clear, taking his pick of supporting players and settling on Johnson, who strolled in for his second of the day.

Aided by more Bunnies mistakes, the Warriors steamroller marched on. Makeshift wing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck dived into the corner with a clinical putdown to celebrate his milestone 200th game in style, blowing the scoreline out to 28-4 with 18 minutes to play.

Martin ensured the rout continued, jinking his way past a slew of defenders to cross by the left-hand upright and cap an impressive effort in his first start of 2024.

The Warriors now return to Auckland to host Manly Sea Eagles next Saturday.

NZ Warriors 34 (Rocco Berry, Jackson Ford , Shaun Johnson 2, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Te Maire Martin tries; Johnson 5 con) South Sydney Rabbitohs 4 (Tu'itupou Thompson try)