The Warriors have started the Andrew Webster era off in style with a thumping 48-12 win over Wests Tigers in the opening round of the Pre-season Challenge on Thursday night.
New recruits Te Maire Martin and Luke Metcalf combined well in the halves to help the Warriors to a 14-0 lead before Marcelo Montoya crossed for his third try of the evening as the left edge caused havoc in Auckland.
Montoya produced a charging effort that knocked Charlie Staines off his feet for his second try but Staines otherwise looked solid at fullback for Wests Tigers in his first showing for the club despite limited opportunities in the match.
Metcalf though continued to impress with a brilliant solo effort in the second half that will give new Warriors coach Webster a halves selection headache with Martin, Shaun Johnson and Ronald Volkman all pushing for Round 1.
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has a decision to make between Staines and Daine Laurie for the fullback spot in the club's season opener against the Titans on March 5.
Match: Warriors v Wests Tigers
Round 1 -
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Sheens would've been disappointed by the side's start but buoyed by their efforts in a 10-minute period during the second half with Stefano Utoikamanu and Trey Peni both getting over the line.
The momentum quickly evaporated, however, with two intercept tries to Viliami Vailea adding an exclamation mark to the Warriors win.
Another of Sheens' recruits, Brandon Wakeham, had a mixed evening in the halves after only arriving to the club a fortnight ago.
Marcelo activates the bonus point
- Warriors coach Andrew Webster rolled out new recruits Te Maire Martin, Luke Metcalf, Jackson Ford and Brayden Williame for their first games with the quartet playing a hand across the side's first three tries.
- Warriors prop Tom Ale was impressive up front with 160 metres from 18 carries.
- Fonua Pole (128 metres) was strong in a beaten side while Stefano Utoikamanu looked sharp with a try and over 120 metres in the loss.
- Tommy Talau made a return to the field after more than 12 months on the sidelines due to an ACL injury in a positive for the Wests Tigers.
- The Warriors activated two bonus competition points after recording more than five linebreaks and more than five tries in the win.
- Wests Tigers missed 46 tackles in the loss and made 11 errors.
Play of the game
Former Shark Luke Metcalf was stuck behind Matt Moylan and Nicho Hynes last year but could finally be about to fulfil his potential at the Warriors under Andrew Webster.
Metcalf has learnt from the likes of Chad Townsend, Daly Cherry-Evans and Shaun Johnson during stints at Cronulla and the Sea Eagles in recent years and with a 40-metre run through the ruck he showed he means business in 2023.
Metcalf straight up the middle
What they said
"We've been practicing everything and I thought we executed well. Luke Metcalf steered the ship around and I thought he did really well. We got to see his pace on display tonight so it was good to see. We're a long way off where we want to be but it's in a step in the right direction. I had Webby (Andrew Webster) in under 20s at Tigers and he's still the same, a really good guy. He's really family-orientated and has got a good balance with his assistant crew. He has got a lot of respect from the playing group." - Warriors recruit Te Maire Martin.
Martin happy to be home
"It was pretty shocking, our defence was poor but we played a young team. The only thing we can do is move on to next week. We lost momentum in the first half, there was a period we came back into it but fell away at the end... it was disappointing. I've never captained before so it was new to me. I think I was more nervous to captain than play. Hopefully I can do it again in the future. " - Wests Tigers captain Stefano Utoikamanu.
Stefano too strong
Wests Tigers are back in action next Sunday against the Raiders at Belmore Sports Ground as part of a double-header in Sydney. The Warriors will head to Christchurch for their final game of the pre-season for a clash against the Storm.
Both coaches are expected to play their big names ahead of Round 1 with Sheens likely to unveil new recruits Api Koroisau, David Klemmer and Isaiah Papali'i for the match.
Webster is expected to do the same with several of his stars including Shaun Johnson and new recruits Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Mitch Barnett and Marata Niukore.