Canberra have climbed into the NRL top eight by humbling an error-ridden Warriors 38-12.
After two late losses in the past two rounds, the Raiders got back to winning ways in emphatic fashion, scoring six tries to two on Saturday night.
The match was the NRL’s first in Taranaki and much of the Warriors’ pre-game focus had been on Issac Luke’s return to his home province.
But the Raiders, whose energetic defence was a feature, put the dampener on the celebrations for the 36-Test Kiwi and former South Sydney hooker.
Coach Ricky Stuart says his side showed their character in overcoming a tough travel schedule and the slippery conditions at Yarrow Stadium.
“Having to travel all the way over here and playing in pretty trying conditions, it was always going be a test of character and we’ve done a good job,” he said.
While the Raiders ran in plenty of tries, their defence was a big contributor to the result, especially as they turned around 22-0 up.
“I though overall, our defence, especially against a team that can attack was quite resilient,” Stuart said.
“In that first 15 to 20 minutes, we turned the ball over a couple of times and the way we defended our goalline was a big improvement on some of our defence at the start of the season.”
In what was a home fixture for the Warriors, the Auckland-based club paid for crucial errors and were on the wrong end of the penalty count.
The defeat leaves them languishing in the bottom quarter of the table ahead of a bye.
Coach Andrew McFadden said his side’s performance as “pretty ordinary” and “embarrassing”
“We showed some real softness tonight,” he said.
“Our defence gave up too many soft points. I’m not going to blanket the whole side.
“I just thought half a dozen blokes didn’t show the urgency or the desire you need to play first grade tonight.”
McFadden indicated that there would be changes when the Warriors host Brisbane in a fortnight.
“It’s a team game and to be a good defensive team you need trust and there’s clearly a lack of trust in our side at the moment,” he said.
“I need to find people that are willing to put their body on the line.”
Tries to Blake Austin, Joseph Leilua and skipper Jarrod Croker had the Raiders well in control by halftime.
The Warriors finally opened their account early in the second half through a Shaun Johnson touchdown.
But Canberra responded with further tries to Josh Papalii, Josh Hodgson and Edrick Lee, before Blake Ayshford got a late consolation for the Warriors.