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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

NZ Warriors Round 26 Review: Disaster season over after ninth straight defeat

Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser / www.photosport.nz
After collapsing in their last home match, the Warriors made the trip to Leichhardt Oval to face the Wests Tigers in their final game of 2017.
After 8 losses on the trot, the Warriors were looking at breaking the losing streak and getting only their second away win of the year, but it was not to be as the Warriors succumbed to the Tigers losing 28-16.

The Tigers looked set to send their departing players off in style and targeted the Warriors weak edge defense and were close to scoring in the early stages through Jack Littlejohn only for the Warriors to desperately stop him within inches of the line.
This only delayed the inevitable as Kevin Naiqama latched onto a Luke Brooks kick to cross for the first try on the night.
The Warriors were reduced to a two man bench after injuries to Blake Ayshford, and Charlie Gubb saw them sit out the remainder of the game.
Both sides had tries disallowed before the Tigers struck again after former Warrior Tui Lolohea put Esan Marsters over with a nicely timed pass.
Lolohea made his presence felt again minutes later after completing a length of the field after James Tedesco made easy work of the Warriors scrambling defense.
The Warriors finally got themselves on the board with Solomone Kata crashing over from dummy half to end the half behind 16-6.

The second half started just like the first with Luke Brooks putting Kevin Naiqama over for his second try of the match.
The Warriors pulled off an excellent set move when Ryan Hoffman through a beautiful inside pass to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Any chances of a miraculous Warriors comeback were well and truly over after David Nofoaluma scored the Tigers last try of the night with 6 minutes left to go.
The Warriors scored the final try of the night when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad finished of a nice team try, but it was too little too late as the Warriors went down 28-16 in their ninth loss in a row.

Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser / www.photosport.nz
My Warrior of the match goes to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
In what has been a horrible season for everyone at the club Roger has been one of only a few Warriors players to perform at a consistent level.
Once again he lead the Warriors in metres gained not to mention he got 1 of the 3 Warriors line breaks as well as 1 of the Warriors 3 tries.
It has been a tough year for the Warriors Captain, and hopefully, he has learnt from this season help try and rebuild this team in 2018.

Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser / www.photosport.nz
My Warrior who needs to improve goes to Ata Hingano.
There could have been many players to choose from in this category, but I have to give it to Ata.
The Tigers used Ata as a speed bump resulting in 6 missed tackles, his kicks were misguided, and he appeared lost at times, but the Warriors wouldn't have been any better had Kieran Foran taken his place.
Ata is still young, and there is talent there and playing along side Shaun Johnson should hopefully bring the best out in him.
But then again the Warriors don't have the best track record of developing talent recently.

I had high hopes for this match, and last week I predicted a Warriors win but the moment I heard Shaun Johnson had been ruled out I knew the Warriors didn't have it in them to overcome the Tigers.
Having only two players on their bench for 70 minutes was always going to be a tough ask, but thankfully Stephen Kearney's bizarre interchange selections worked this time with Charnze sitting there ready to go.
The Warriors improved their penalty count but missing 40 tackles and making 10 unforced errors made getting the win here a hard task.
Letting the Tigers get up to a 3 try lead did not help matters, and by the time Kata scored the Warriors first try the game was already over.
Once again the Warriors had a high completion rate at 86%, but they still couldn't put together any offense and no matter how good your completion rate is it really means nothing if you can't convert it into points.

So the season is finally over, 9 losses in a row to end it is really not how I saw 2017 turning out when I wrote my season preview in February.
Typically after the Warriors fail to make the playoffs, i get angry or upset, but I feel like an old parent who is not angry just disappointed.
Rumours are floating that the Warriors have signed Adam Blair and Gerard Beale for next season if this is accurate time will no doubt tell.
I was baulking at the idea of signing Adam Blair but to be brutally honest the Warriors need forwards, and if Blair is the only decent option out there after James Graham signed with the Dragons, then I would rather have him than rely on the current props the Warriors have.
Gerard Beale is an interesting possible signing as the Warriors already have enough players in the backs department, but I would be happy for Beale to replace Kata in the back line.

2017 has been brutal to watch and to write about and im actually looking forward to having some time away from the Warriors.
I still have my season review to produce which will not be enjoyable, but it will at least close this season for me once and for all.

So that was a terrible Round 26 and 2017 season, and per usual I will leave you with some questions.

What are your thoughts on the two possible signings?
Do you see any significant changes coming from the clubs end of year review?
Who was your player of the year?
Who was your biggest disappointment of the year?




Tuesday, 29 August 2017

NZ Warriors Round 25 Review: Sea Eagles break hearts at Mount Smart

Copyright Photo: Renee McKay / www.photosport.nz
After their seventh loss in a row, the Warriors headed back to Mount Smart for the final time in 2017 to face the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
Desperate to break their losing streak the Warriors welcomed Shaun Johnson back and although he added a much-needed spark to the side a lack of Rugby League I.Q. resulted in a Golden Point defeat.

The Sea Eagles started the match strong with Blake Green taking advantage of the high winds and kicking two 40/20’s in the space of 5 minutes.
This lead to Jake Trbojevic crossing the line after a nice inside ball from Blake Green.
An ill timed penalty against the Warriors lead to Matthew Wright kicking a penalty to extend the Sea Eagles lead to 8-0.
The Sea Eagles had firm control of the game until Tom Trbojevich dropped the ball inside his own twenty to give the Warriors their first attacking set in enemy territory which lead to David Fusitu’a scoring in the corner.
The returning Shaun Johnson forced a repeat set and followed up with a nicely weighted grubber kick into the in goal which David Fusitu’a pounced on for his second try to go into the half time break 8-8.

Early in the second half the Warriors were yet again penalised, and the Sea Eagles took a two point lead, the Sea Eagles converted this change of momentum with a try to Dylan Walker minutes later.
David Fusitu’a made his presence felt again, snatching a Shaun Johnson bomb out of the air and putting Blake Ayshford over the line, with Issac Luke converting the scores were level once again.
Both sides struggled to gain the upper hand with unforced errors dampening any opportunities for either side.
A forward pass from the Sea Eagles gave the Warriors the chance they needed, and they responded with a try to Ken Maumalo in the corner, Shaun Johnson converted to give the Warriors a 6 point with 10 minutes to go.
The Warriors kept the pressure on, and Shaun Johnson stepped up to nail a field goal to give the Warriors a two score lead with seven minutes remaining.
It seemed like the losing streak was going to be broken finally, and it appeared the Warriors thought the same as they let their guard down and Tom Trbojevic took advantage scoring a try under the posts with four minutes to go.
Ata Hingano kicked the restart out on the full which gave Manly a piggy bank down the field, and Daly Cherry-Evans slotted a field goal to level the scores at 21 all.
Manly made yet another handling error but Shaun Johnson missed his second field goal attempt, Daly Cherry-Evans missed his second attempt which meant the match was going to Golden Point.
David Fusitu’a gave the Warriors a chance to take the game after making a 50-metre break, but the Warriors inexplicably tried to score in the corner instead of setting up for a field goal and were carrying over the out line.
Manly marched down the field on the next set, and Daly Cherry-Evans sealed the Warriors fate with the match winning field goal handing the Warriors their eighth loss in a row losing 22-21.

Copyright Photo: Renee McKay / www.photosport.nz
My Warrior of the match goes to David Fusitu’a.
David was active in this game, two tries, two line breaks, and a try assist made him a stand out.
His strong runs and ability in the air kept the Warriors in this match.
This season is well and truly over but in 2018 the Warriors should aim to take advantage of Davids skills and use him as an attacking threat in the air more.

Copyright Photo: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/
My Warrior who needs to improve goes to Kieran Foran yet again.
I couldn't even tell you what Foran did on the field he was Mr. Invisible once again, with the season over the Warriors should have given Ata Hingano the five eight spot to get some much-needed game time.
Foran has had one or two good games for the Warriors, but from the moment he signed for the Bulldogs he has been mentally absent from the Warriors.
The team and more importantly the fans deserve more from a player of his calibre.

Well, that was a heart breaker wasn't it, sitting in those poor conditions I finally thought the Warriors were going to send me home happy.
Shaun Johnson was a welcomed return and even though you could tell he was not 100% his spark on attack lead to the Warriors looking dangerous on attack.
But the difference between these two sides was game management.
The Warriors had the game in the bag, but either through mental weakness or fatigue, the Warriors blew the lead.
When David Fusitu’a made his big break in golden point no one ran with him to convert his run into a game winning try and then to make matters worse instead of setting up for the match winning field goal the Warriors tried to score a try in the corner.
This is where a player like Foran should have stepped up and lead the way.
Putting it simply when push came to shove the Sea Eagles wanted the win more, and they fought for victory every step of the way.

Stephen’s interchange is still a joke, and he needs to wake up.
Having a hooker and a half on your bench is unheard off and using Jazz Tevaga in the prop rotation was a clear indication that Kearney continues to be out of his depth.
I know that the Warriors prop stock have been drastically reduced due to injury, and Charlie Gubb is only useful for 20 minutes a game, but the Warriors need to take a serious look at their forward for 2018 as most of their props are leaving and bar James Gavet there isn't much to work with.

This week the Warriors are playing their final match of the year in Sydney against the Wests Tigers.
Kearney has named the same side that lost in round 24 for this last game, and the Tigers have improved over the last few months, so this will be a test for the team.
The Tigers will be looking at ending their season with a win for their supporters but I'm picking the Warriors to get an upset (yes right now a win over the Tigers is classed as an upset), and they will win by 8.

So that was a dreadful Round 25, and per usual I will leave you with some questions.

What is your score prediction for the Tigers match?
Will Kearney learn to use his interchange correctly?
Are there any players off contract that you would sign?
How much are you looking forward to this season being over?




Tuesday, 22 August 2017

NZ Warriors Round 24 Review: Warriors woes continue after seventh straight defeat

Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser / www.photosport.nz
After the Raiders dealt the Warriors their biggest losing margin of the season the Warriors headed to Sydney to face the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
After conceding 20 points, the Warriors had a lot of room for improvement, and after highly contested first half they fell away to the more disciplined Rabbitohs to lose 36-18.

The Warriors started the match with purpose and were quick to take advantage of an Alex Johnston error to be the first team to score with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck touching down.
Alex made amends scoring a try of his own to draw the match level taking advantage of a consistently weak Warriors edge defense.
Pressure from the Warriors lead to more handling errors, and a slew of penalties was too much for the Rabbitohs as Simon Mannering crashed over to hand the Warriors the lead for the second time.
This appeared to spurn the Rabbitohs into action as Cameron Murray took advantage of some lackluster defense to bring the Rabbitohs back into contention.
Nearing the end of the first half, the Warriors discipline started to falter, and Adam Reynolds slotted a penalty attempt to end the first half 12 all.

Both sides traded sets with neither gaining the upper hand until Roger Tuivasa-Sheck scored his second try of the match.
This was the last shot fired by the Warriors in this game as the Rabbitohs took advantage of a tired and ill disciplined Warriors side and ran in four more tries via Adam Reynolds, Cody Walker, and Alex Johnston.
With Alex completing a hat trick to give the Rabbitohs a well deserved 36-18 win and make the Warriors current losing streak to seven.

Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser / www.photosport.nz
My Warrior of the match goes to Simon Mannering.
It is a truly ironic that the most inconsistent team in the NRL has one of the most consistent performers in the NRL.
Once again Simon made the most meters from the Warriors forward pack lead the tackle count, scored a try, made a line break and set up Rogers second try.
Simon goes above and beyond for this side, and he deserves better performances from his teammates.
It would be interesting to hear his real thoughts on this team and his teammates, and perhaps we may hear it after he retires.


Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser / www.photosport.nz
My Warrior who needs to improve goes to Kieran Foran.
I am compiling a list of my top 10 worst Warriors signings, and Kieran is going to be a contender for the top of that list.
With Shaun Johnson injured Kieran was meant to start taking control of the Warriors and lead them to glory but Kieran has been Mr. Invisible all year.
Kieran needs to wake up, he has had two young halves come in and perform at a higher level, and some would say that Mason Lino and Ata Hingano are not even first-grade caliber players.
He has two games left with the Warriors, and I think the Bulldogs will be having second thoughts at signing him now.

Despite an improved first half the Warriors still showed the same issues they have been having all season.
Weak edge defense and poor discipline consistently put the Warriors on the back foot.
Stephen Kearney likes to promote the Warriors high completion rate which is one of the highest in the NRL in 2017, however, what use is a high completion rate when your team cannot convert those sets into points?

Stephen Kearneys continued lack of understanding of how to use an interchange baffles me.
Jacob Lillyman injured himself and did not return in the second half of this match, and Stephen only used his two interchange props for 12 and 20 minutes a piece.
After losing James Gavet and Albert Vete to injury and Ben Matulino out with suspension for this match the Warriors really need to be smarter with how they use the interchange, but it is evident right now Stephen Kearney is a long way off from being a smart coach.

Stephen claims that several of his current starting side are not up to first-grade football and that the young players in the ISP are not ready for first grade but as of yet has shown no progress in recruiting talent for 2018.
Rumours say that Adam Blair is heading to the Knights and James Graham is off to the Dragons so the Warriors have lost out on the two big prop options available, and I am struggling to think of who the Warriors can look at bringing in to strengthen their pack.

This week the Warriors are playing at Mount Smart Stadium for the final time in 2017 facing the Manly Sea Eagles.
Shaun Johnson has been named to return, with the season over I would have kept him on the sidelines to prepare for next season but Stephen obviously is desperate to break the seven match losing streak, and a Warriors team with Shaun is more likely to do that.
However, I think it is too little too late and Manly will smell blood in the water and will be looking at making it a rough day for Warriors fans, so I'm picking Manly to win by 14.

Can the Warriors get any worse?
Unfortunately, I think so, 2017 has been horrible, and 2018 appears to not be shaping up any better.
Unless there are some significant changes in this club, the Warriors may very well be wooden spoon contenders.

So that was a dreadful Round 24, and per usual I will leave you with some questions.

What is your score prediction for the Sea Eagles match?
Is this the worst season ever for the Warriors?
Will 2018 be just as bad?
Do you think the Warriors will get another win this season?