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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

NZ Warriors Round 14 Review: Warriors front up in Hoffman Milestone

Copyright Photo: Scott P / www.photosport.nz
Well, the Warriors have one less Monkey on their back after their Round 14 trip to the Gold Coast.
The Warriors who have yet to taste victory away from Mt Smart in 2017 really needed to get the job done against the Titans and in Ryan Hoffman’s 300th NRL match the Warriors delivered with a 34-12 win.

It wasn’t a perfect game by any means but the Warriors played with more desire than we have seen for quite a few rounds, the Titans may have scored first but the Warriors dominated the first half scoring four tries to one.
The Warriors pressured the Titans defensive line repeatedly with the Titans having trouble containing the Warriors front rowers and large wingers.
Ken Maumalo had another impressive showing, his confidence is growing and his performances are improving as a result and hopefully, there is still more to come from the youngster.
The injection of Sam Lisone and Albert Vete from the bench helped the Warriors keep the Titans on the ropes and with the exception of the first 10 minutes the Titans were never in this game.
The Warriors brought the offload out again and showed that when given license to throw the ball around they really put teams to the sword.
Defensively the Warriors upped their performance also, reducing their missed tackles to 21. A number they still need to improve but it seems to be on the mend.
Putting it simply the Warriors ran with purpose on attack, reduced their errors and tackled with intent and if they perform in that mindset they are a hard team to get past.

Copyright Photo: Scott P / www.photosport.nz
My player of the day goes to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Roger has been disappointing for the past few rounds but he delivered in this match, his ability to get the Warriors out of their own red zone on kick returns is a key component of this side's chances for victory each and every game.
His ability to break the line has been sorely missing but he appears to be coming back into form and with the season on a knife edge the Warriors need his form now more than ever.

Copyright Photo: www.warriors.kiwi
My Warrior who needs to improve goes to regular offender Solomona Kata.
Defensively he is still a liability but what he offers on attack has normally been enough to counter his weaknesses, this year however offensively he has been a mere shadow of himself.
Opposition teams have figured him out and his barnstorming runs have become a thing of the past.
He has loyalty from Kearney right now but if his current form continues to slide he will need to go find his confidence in the lower grades.

It was great to see the team put on a good performance in Ryan Hoffman's 300th game, the joy and unity the team showed after Ryan slotted the last conversion of the match was the first time in months that these players actually looked like a team.
This was an enjoyable game to watch and it couldn’t have come at a better time, interest in the Warriors seems to be at a level of indifference right now and the only way the Warriors can get people interested again is by winning.
This game isn't a miracle cure for the season as the Warriors still have a long way to go but if they can start winning on the road it will make things a lot easier.
Stephen Kearney made the bold call to stick with his players that haven't been performing and this week it paid off with the win but I'm still not convinced that he knows what he is doing but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I have been critical of Stephen Kearney's interchange selections and he had me scratching my head again with Ata Hingano being named to join the forwards on the pine.
This ended up working in the Warriors favour when Kieran Foran went off with a quad injury and Ata slotted in well and showed his pace running onto a nice ball from Shaun Johnson to score the first but definitely not his last NRL try.
The question is how would Ata have been used if Foran didn't get injured? 
My guess is that it would have been another game where a player sat on the bench for the entire game, which Kearney needs to stop doing.
Kieran Foran's injury doesn’t look that serious and thankfully the Warriors first bye round is happening this week so he has more time to recover.

After this bye round the Warriors are back to Mount Smart for Friday Night Football against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
It goes without saying but the Warriors need another victory here and I think they can do it if they bring the mindset they brought for this match so I'm picking the Warriors to win by 12.

So that was a more optimistic round 14 and as per usual, I will leave you with some questions.

Do you think Foran will be ready for the Bulldogs?
Is there still a chance of playoff football for the Warriors?
What are your thoughts on Ata Hingano?
What would you do with Solomona Kata?

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

NZ Warriors Round 13 Review: Warriors Woeful against Wounded Eels

Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser / www.photosport.nz
The Warriors travelled back across the ditch to ANZ Stadium to face the Parramatta Eels.
Confidence was up again after last rounds victory over the Broncos and the Warriors were looking at getting their first win on Australian soil in 2017.
However it was not to be as the Parramatta Eels toughed it out through multiple injuries and kept the Warriors on the search for that first win away from Mt Smart in 2017.

The Eels didn't long to stamp their mark on this match with tries to Kirisome Auva’a and Josh Hoffman in the first 10 minutes.
The Warriors clawed their way back into the game with tries to Simon Mannering and Ken Maumalo in the 19th and 26th minutes.
Shaun Johnson made an error on the last tackle moments later which resulted in a try to Semi Radradra at the other end of the field, making the score 18-12 at the break.
It took 16 minutes but the Eels were over first in the second half with a try to Tepai Moeroa.
The Eels were losing players and by the 60th-minute mark were down to a one man bench when the Warriors took advantage of the tiring pack with a try to Ryan Hoffman.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck scored in the 71st minute to close the gap to two points before Clinton Gutherson scored in the dying stages of the match to break Warriors fans hearts with a 32-24 loss.

Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser / www.photosport.nz
My player of the day goes to Issac Luke.
Issac Luke had one of better performances in this match, with James Gavet and Ben Matulino bending the defensive line Issac was able to take advantage with lots of runs out of dummy half.
With the Eels defence getting tired due to the mounting injuries Issac was having a field day average almost 13 metres for each run he made.
Defensively he was sound also with 33 tackles and only 1 missed in the match.
If the rest of the team played at the level that Issac played in this match, well then they wouldn't be in the dire situation that they're currently in.

Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser / www.photosport.nz
My player that needs to improve goes to Shaun Johnson.
Last week when the critics were calling Shaun out, he addressed the criticism and vowed to be better and in fairness to him against the Broncos he showed glimpses of the Shaun Johnson we all like to watch.
That Shaun vanished this week and the bumbling Shaun returned complete with the poor last tackle options.
His kicking game was dreadful and he appeared lost throughout the game.
With Kieran Foran leaving and no experienced halves signed as of writing, the Warriors need Shaun to step up and start earning the money they are paying him.
I've defended him in the past as the forwards were not giving him a platform to run off but in this match 5 of the 6 starting forwards all ran for more than 100 metres so that excuse has worn thin.

This match was hard to stomach in all honesty.
The Eels were the walking wounded and the Warriors should have crushed them when they were down to a reduced bench but the Warriors just couldn't get the job done.
Kearney appears to be out of his element, changes need to be made with this side with their season hanging by a thread and yet he continues to stay the course with players that need to be dropped.
Solomona Kata, Bodene Thompson, Jacob Lillyman would all be gone if I was in charge with Ryan Hoffman close to joining them.
Charnze Nicoll Klokstad, Bunty Afoa and Toafofoa Sipley would be coming straight in for me this week.
Worse case scenario is that they perform as bad as the players they are replacing and the Warriors are still no better but at least it would show that the coaching staff are trying to fix the problems.
As of writing the team has been announced for this week's upcoming match and Kearney has stuck with the same side yet again bar James Gavet who is out with a hamstring injury.
Stephen Kearney sir I am feeling deja-vu from your days in Parramatta where the team was falling apart and you offered no opinions of your own on how to fix it.
If you as a coach cannot stand up on your own two feet and make some decisions, how can you expect your players to show some grit and passion?
Heart and desire are seriously lacking in this side and this has been a problem for the past few years, Some of the players have hit out and the media and fans being too critical of them and in honesty they need to harden up, fans and media will never stop freely giving their opinion and the only way to stop it is to perform.
I think the majority of Warriors fans are fair and if it looks like you are giving it everything you have got then they will show you respect (Simon Mannering and Steve Price are perfect examples)
Change is needed now in both attitude and personnel, 6 embarrassing years in a row is not good enough!

The Warriors head to the Gold Coast to face the Titans, with the recent news of James Gavet being ruled out I am struggling to see a positive result for the Warriors.
Still, without a win in Australia the Warriors need to come away with the two points here but with the current side I don't see them getting it done so I am picking the Titans to get the win at home here by 10.

So that was a demoralising round 13 result and as per usual, I will leave you with some questions.

What should or could Kearney do to turn this season around?
Is the 2017 season over?
Would you bring some of the young guns into the side, if so who?
Where do you see the Warriors finishing in 2017?




Wednesday, 31 May 2017

NZ Warriors Round 12 Review:Warriors ride Broncos into Winners Circle

Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
After back to back to back disappointing showings, the Warriors made their way back to Mt Smart to face the Brisbane Broncos.
With State of Origin season upon us, the Broncos made the trip across the ditch missing 7 players from their squad but still had the likes of Ben Hunt, Jordan Kahu, Adam Blair and Benji Marshall to rely on.
As Warriors fans have come to expect at this time of year, the Warriors took advantage of the Origin time period and got the much needed two points.

The Warriors continued their trend of starting games strong and were first to strike at the 10-minute mark when Blake Ayshford scored off a Shaun Johnson short ball.
10 minutes later Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad ran a kick return back 40-50 metres which lead to Shaun Johnson evading three defenders and scoring under the posts.
The Warriors and Broncos traded blows for the remainder of the first half and after Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad dropped the ball over the line, the Warriors fired one final shot with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck scoring off a Shaun Johnson grubber taking the Warriors into the break 16-0 ahead.
The Warriors struck early in the second half with Ken Maumalo scoring at the 42nd-minute mark.
The Bronco's attempted to scare the Warriors fans as they scored two tries back to back through James Roberts, with flashbacks of the Panthers games 2nd half collapse fresh in everyone's minds, the Warriors needed to step up and close the game out, this happened when my current Warrior of the year James Gavet sealed the win with a try in the 66th minute giving the Warriors the much needed two points and a 28-10 win.

Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
My Warrior of the game goes to Ken Maumalo.
Ken is a player that polarises fans opinions, he still has a lot of weaknesses that he needs to work on but in this match, he showed what he can offer when playing in the right mindset.
Ken was a headache for the Broncos all night, his strong runs out of his own half pressured the Broncos defensive line and helped the Forwards set up the platform Shaun Johnson and the rest of the backs needed.
Perhaps the possible near return of Manu Vatuvei and the impressive early promise that Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has shown have made Ken pull up his bootstraps and improve his performance and if he can keep playing at the level he played on Saturday night I will be more than happy to keep him on the wing in the foreseeable future.

Copyright Photo: www.broncos.com.au

My Warrior who needs to improve doesn't go to a player this week but actually goes to Stephen Kearney's interchange plan.
A lot has been said of Kearney having Nathaniel Roache sitting on the pine and refusing to use him, but this round we saw Bunty Afoa only being used for the final 10 minutes of the match.
If you only plan on using a player for 10 minutes I would be using the likes of Charlie Gubb who excels when used in limited minutes.
The Warriors got the victory here but I, still not ready to trust Kearney's process just yet.

So the Warriors are finally back in the winner's circle.
With the Broncos having players out the Warriors were in a damned if you and damned if you don't scenario.
A Warriors win here gets met with the "Baby Broncos" excuse and a loss to a team missing these Origin players would be a disaster for the Warriors already dim playoff hopes.
The Warrior don't arrange the NRL Draw and the fact that it works in their favour when the State of Origin comes around is not their fault.
The NRL does need to work out a way to incorporate State of origin into the NRL season in a way where it doesn't effect teams in a negative way but until they do the Warriors need to take advantage.
However, the Warriors need to ride their Origin form into the post Origin time.
Every year we watch the Warriors get results and find form in this period only to fall apart after Origin ends and all players return.
The Warriors need to get post origin wins on the board and I believe this squad has potential as long as the basics are refined.

The Forward pack finally came to the party in this match, running with purpose and keeping the Broncos defensive line on the back-foot, this gave Shaun Johnson the opportunity to attack the line in the way only he can and he had a field day and the Warriors reaped the benefits.
The forwards need to do this week in and week out if the Warriors want any chance of playoff football.
The Warriors wound back the clock in the spirit of their heritage round jersey and rediscovered the offload making 12 offloads in this match, throw in 5 line breaks and only 6 errors and the Warriors showed that they still have the old Warriors style in there they just need the confidence to use it.

The defence improved a great deal compared to the last two rounds but still has a long way to go if the Warriors are to be taken seriously in 2017.
The Warriors still cannot defend against the offload and the Broncos in fact only scored because of their ability to offload.
If the Warriors can tighten this up it will go a long way to securing victories for this side.

This week the Warriors travel to ANZ Stadium to face the Parramatta Eels, the Warriors need to get the win here to close the gap on the top eight teams.
Only one change has been made to the side that faced the Broncos with Solomona Kata returning to the centres with David Fusitu'a pushing out to the wing and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad going back to the reserve grades.
With Charnze's recent performances Solomona will need to get back into his 2016 form this week or he may find himself out of the team again.
This is going to be a tough tight game but I'm picking the Warriors to win this match by 10.

So that was Round 12, An enjoyable to watch victory with glimpses of promise, and as per usual, I will leave you with some of those questions.

Do you think the Warriors have turned a corner after this win?
Do you think Ken Maumalo's performance was a sign of him growing into a first grader or a one-off performance?
Would you have brought Kata back into the side for CNK?
What is your score prediction for the Eel's match?