By Richard Becht at Mt Smart Stadium
The Vodafone Warriors put together an outstanding run of 34 unanswered points en route to posting their third straight win in downing the Newcastle Knights at Mount Smart Stadium.
The Knights surged out to a 12-0 lead early, with Travis Waddell crashing over beside the posts for the day's first try five minutes in.
And second rower Tyler Randall soon followed after he was able to break the line 40 metres out for his fifth try of the season.
That, though, would be the last addition to the scoring column for the Knights as the Vodafone Warriors, buoyed by their return to Mount Smart, quickly gained the ascendancy in surging to a 34-12 victory.
Left winger Jarrod Tua was the first to score for the home side after being put into space by a brilliant Tuimoala Lolohea pass.
Captain Steve Waetford was next on the board as he was able to cap off a well-worked play sparked by an offload from Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
Lolohea, whose goal kicking was on-point throughout, added the extras to draw level at 12-12.
The home side then grabbed the lead on the stroke of 30 minutes with another impressive team move, Upu Poching crossing the line to take the lead after being fed a clever ball by Dominique Peyroux. With Lolohea’s conversion, the Vodafone Warriors went to the break leading 18-12.
They didn't relent in the second half as they continued to bottle the Knights inside their own half.
On the offensive side of the ball, Tua was a persistent threat on the left edge. The Mount Albert product was rewarded with two second half tries, going over in the 46th minute and then again in the 59th to complete his hat-trick.
Kevin Locke, playing on the wing, punctuated the match with a try in the 72nd minute after Carlos Tuimavave managed to free up the ball while being tackled.
After being winless in the first four rounds, the Vodafone Warriors have put their campaign back on course. They won four on end, lost back to back to Penrith and the Mounties and have now stitched together three consecutive wins.
This weekend the Warriors tackle the Bulldogs at Belmore on Saturday while the Knights return home to face the Tigers up at Cessnock.
New Zealand Warriors 34 (J Tua 3, K Locke, U Poching, S Waetford tries; T Lolohea 5 goals) def. Newcastle Knights 12 (T Randall, T Waddell tries; M Dobson 2 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium.