Warriors win back fans with 5-win start to NRL

SYDNEY (AP) The New Zealand Warriors continued to win back the support of their previously disillusioned fan-base when they beat North Queensland 22-12 to extend to five matches their unbeaten start to the season in Australia’s National Rugby League.

After years of under-performance, the Warriors had been abandoned by all but their most die-hard fans. But their unexpected winning start to the season has won back many former supporters and 26,500 people were at Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday to see the Warriors beat last year’s losing grand finalists.

The Warriors haven’t won five matches in a row since the middle of the 2013 season when their Australian rivals were weakened by State of Origin representative commitments. They have never done so at the start of the season.

But they took the lead after only five minutes on Saturday with a try to Ken Maumalo and were never headed, consigning North Queensland to its fourth consecutive loss.

St. George Illawarra is also unbeaten through five games after a 16-12 win over South Sydney.

The Dragons led 16-6 with eight minutes remaining and had to hold out a strong rally from Souths who scored late tries through Cody Walker and Greg Inglis.

Wests improved their record to 4-1 with an 11-10 win over the defending champion Melbourne Storm who are now 2-3. The Tigers first fought back from 10-4 midway through the second half to tie the scores with a try to Chris Lawrence then sealed their win with a Benji Marshall field goal seven minutes from fulltime.

The Sydney Roosters beat Cronulla 28-10 and Newcastle beat Brisbane 15-10 for their third wins.