AAP Rugby

Broncos leave Warriors hanging in NRL

By AAP Newswire

The wheels are seriously beginning to wobble on the Warriors' premiership bandwagon after they dropped to eighth spot - their lowest position on the ladder this season.

Three days after being pummelled by an understrength Penrith team, the Warriors are now hanging onto their top eight spot following Brisbane's win over Gold Coast on Sunday.

The Broncos' 34-0 demolition of the Titans means they are now one of four teams on 22 points and in the bottom half of the top eight, including Sydney Roosters, Cronulla and the Warriors.

However Wayne Bennett's side leapfrogged the Warriors into seventh spot with a superior for-and-against, leaving the Auckland-based side flirting with danger.

While they still remain six points clear of ninth-placed Canberra and Wests Tigers, some serious questions are beginning to be asked of Stephen Kearney's men.

It was only two months ago that the Warriors smashed the Tigers to be sitting pretty in second spot and all but assured of ending their six-year finals drought.

Their defeat to Penrith means they not only have lost consecutive matches for the first time this season, but five straight against a current top-eight team.

Their next two opponents are the Broncos and Storm.

Brisbane are starting to flex their premiership muscle with three straight victories - all during the normally gruelling State of Origin period.

The 34 points on Sunday is the most they have scored this season.

"Well the season's about to start really. Up until now there's a lot of disruptions, start of the season, trying get match fitness, all the things you have to go through," Bennett said.

"But we're now in the last eight weeks of the season now so consistency is a real key.

"The point is we've got to be in all those games and we've got to make sure that in eight weeks, we're in a good place with our performances and confidence in ourselves to know that we can be a chance of making a difference in the playoffs."

In the other three matches of the Origin-affected round, St George Illawarra burned a chance to consolidate top spot on the ladder with a late collapse against Melbourne.

Despite leading 30-28 with 20 minutes to go, the defending premiers put a huge dent on the Dragons' premiership march by crossing for four tries in the final quarter of the match.

Penrith ended any doubt over their title aspirations with a 36-4 rout of the Warriors, despite missing eight regular first-graders to Origin and injury.

Second-gamer Jarome Luai shone in their absence, scoring two tries, playing a hand in three more, and finishing with 20 points in an impressive performance.

The points also flowed in the other match in Canberra's comeback win over Canterbury, who blew a 14-point lead with seven minutes to go to lose by four.