Star halfback Shaun Johnson credits a return to having fun for the Warriors’ 36-18 NRL win over Brisbane in Auckland.
The home side ran in seven tries to two on Saturday, with winger David Fusitu’a crossing for a double.
The Warriors’ last outing ended in a dismal 38-12 loss to Canberra before their bye last weekend.
They showed plenty of energy against the Broncos as well as a willingness to spread the ball as they claimed their fifth win of the season.
“We wanted to get out and have some fun tonight,” Johnson said.
He said the past few weeks, which included six players being disciplined after a late night out, had been tough on the team and coach Andrew McFadden had worked on lightening the mood in the build-up.
“Cappy has done a terrific job making sure we’re nice and relaxed, and enjoyed training,” he said.
“That just translated out into the performance tonight.”
Johnson, whose own form has been under the spotlight, was a key part of the victory as try-scorer and creator, and he also showed a renewed willingness to run the ball.
He praised the forwards for setting the platform and he pointed to a backs-to-the-wall mentality for the Warriors’ new-found energy.
“Everyone has been writing their two cents about us and we just wanted to bunker down over the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“We knew we were the only people who could change what was going on that performance was the first step in doing that.”
Brisbane, who were top of the table in May, have now lost three in a row.
They had four of their six Queensland representatives backing up from State of Origin.
They included skipper Corey Parker, who said Origin had had its effect, but he also played it down.
“We’re all professional in what we do,” he said.
“They beat us to the punch in everything in that first half. They had all the possession and we gave it to them.”
Down 18-6, Brisbane had two tries disallowed in quick succession just before halftime for forward passes.
Parker refused to be drawn on the referee’s call in the two incidents.
“Sometimes you get them on your side, sometimes you don’t – that’s footy,” he said.
“They weren’t the be-all and end-all.”
Johnson got the Warriors on the board when a double dummy opened up a gap to the tryline.
He was also involved in the second try, with his kick and regather continuing an attack begun from far out by veteran winger Manu Vatuvei, who was back after a month on personal leave, and finished by back-rower Bodene Thompson.
Prop Jacob Lillyman was next to score, but an Alex Glenn touch-down helped Brisbane peg the margin back.
However, tries to Fusitu’a and to skipper Ryan Hoffman pushed the Warriors further ahead early in the second half.
Brisbane hit back through winger Jordan Kahu, but Johnson’s cut-out pass put Fusitu’a over again.
Centre Solomone Kata powered over for the Warriors before the Broncos grabbed a late consolation through Tevita Pangai Jr.