Context is key, and we shouldn’t overlook just how poor their opponents were, especially in the first half when it looked like they had only been introduced to each other five minutes before kick-off . But that won’t worry Dave Rennie and his men too much as they look to start building some momentum heading into the start of the Champions Cup in a fortnight’s time.
The return of six World Cup players clearly had a galvanising effect, with George Horne a constant source of mischief from scrum-half, Adam Hastings pulling the strings masterfully from stand-off, Peter Horne a steady hand in the centre, DTH van der Merwe asking questions on the wing, Zander Fagerson unlucky not to be named man of the match at tight-head prop, and even George Turner made his presence felt as a late replacement at hooker.
“We played well in the first half and took the game away from them quite early,” said head coach Rennie. “Adam controlled things really well for us. The game stuttered a little in the second half with injuries and stoppages, and we could have been more accurate, but it was a step in the right direction.”
A nearby fireworks display threatened to envelop this match in smoke early on and by the time the cloud had lifted at around the 17-minute mark, the hosts were 12 points up thanks to two close-range tries by Grant Stewart and Matt Fagerson, the second one being converted by Adam Hastings from directly in front of the posts.
Callum Gibbins kept the momentum going when he burst through a splintered Kings lineout maul to claim try No 3, and Oli Kebble followed up with the bonus-point score in the 23rd minute when he brushed off some heartless tackling and thundered home from 25 yards.
Kings didn’t help their cause by having two players sent to the sin-bin in this opening 40, with skipper Ruan Lerm seeing yellow for a daft shoulder-charge on Kebble and winger Sbura Sithole was off to the naughty step for a deliberate knock-on. Second-row Bobby De Wee can count himself fortunate that he didn’t also see yellow after he pulled opposite number Kiran McDonald down at a lineout.
Niko Matawalu chased down his own kick ahead to snatch Warriors’ fifth try with the game still not half an hour old, after Hastings derailed Kings’ first meaningful attack with an interception and then sent a long, looping pass out to the flying Fijian on the right wing.
Zander Fagerson got the ball rolling for Warriors in the second half but the points didn’t come quite so easily after the break, and it took until just after the hour mark for their next score which came via a penalty try when the Kings scrum folded under serious Warriors pressure.
Ratu Tagive’s try – after a looping, speculative pass from Pete Horne – and Hastings’ conversion brought up the half century and finished the scoring.