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Monday, April 22, 2024

NZ Warriors 2024 Round 7 Review: Dragons Dominate Warriors in Humiliating Loss

After their tense draw against the Sea Eagles, the Warriors headed back across the ditch to face the Dragons. After a promising start, the Warriors fell apart, with the Dragons making their 30-12 victory look like a training run.

What Went Down


The Warriors started the match strong with some strong runs from the pack before being handed a good opportunity after Francis Molo gave away a penalty for a flop: moments later, Shaun Johnson spied a gap and went himself crossing the line untouched for the first try of the match. The Warriors kept the pressure on and forced an error from Moses Suli and camped themselves in the Dragon's half; with the Dragons continuing to make errors and penalties, it looked certain the Warriors would cross the try-line again; however, the Dragon's defence held firm and won the battle when Jacob Liddle intercepted a pass to release some pressure. Between the 18th and 23rd minutes, the momentum started to swing with the Warriors making an error and giving away three penalties, the last one giving the Dragons valuable field position, which they took advantage of when Ben Hunt passed to Suli, who broke Rocco Berry's tackle and crossed for the home sides first points. An error in the next set, when Marcelo Montoya dropped the ball while getting tackled on the kick return, saw the Dragons right back at it, and a few plays later, crossed again when they shifted right to send Mikaele Ravalawa over for his first try of the season. The home side kept the pressure on and was guided up the field on the back of a Warriors penalty and ruck infringement before Hunt took on the goal line defence and powered his way over the line to extend his side's lead. With the first half almost over, Zac Lomax kicked a 2-point field goal to extend his side's lead to 16-6 as both sides entered the sheds.

The second started in the same fashion that the first ended, with the Dragons scoring within the first minute when Lomax grabbed a high kick over the top on Montoya to push their lead out to 16. They kept the pressure on the Warriors, who struggled to create any opportunities with the limited ball they had before they found themselves under the pump again when the Dragons forced a goal-line dropout; Johnson's kick went short but did look like it was going to bounce over the ten-metre line but was grabbed by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, giving the Dragon's an easy penalty which they slotted to move out to a 24-6 lead. That looked to provide a mini wakeup call for the Warriors, who started to string some sets together and started making inroads into the Dragon's red zone but struggled against their strong goal-line defence; this pressure led to another mistake when Johnson dropped the ball before watching Tyrell Sloan scoop it up and run the length of the field to score what would be the last try of the match for the Dragons. With time running out, the Warriors had a few attempts at scoring but were not able to cross the line before finally making a play stick in the 70th minute when they shifted right, sending Dallin Watene-Zelezniak over in the corner; Johnson conversion was the final scoring play of the match as both sides spent the final ten minutes trading sets and errors until the final whistle blew putting the Warriors and their fans out of their misery with a 30-6 loss and their worst defeat of the season.

My Thoughts

Well, that sucked; of all teams were to get dominated by, it had to be the team I despise the most. I thought the Warriors started well in the first 20, but they just went off the rails. Being down 16-6 at the break wasn't a game-ender for me as we had seen the Warriors adjust and fight back from a significant deficit before, but when the Dragons came out firing, I knew deep down that this would not be the night. With the Warriors' middle stocks heavily depleted and an injury ruling out Chanel Harris-Tavita before kickoff, I had many concerns about the Warriors' bench rotation. Unfortunately, those concerns proved true with the big boppers being used for big minutes and gassing out and a reluctance to use Adam Pompey and Paul Roache until the game was well and truly over; I personally would have given Zyon Maiu'u a shot, I know he may not be ready for first grade yet, and I'm biased due to being a massive fan of the young forward. Still, I think he may have been able to help, although his inclusion would not have fixed the schoolboy issues that caused the collapse here.
It was an ugly game to watch and was very unlike Andrew Webster Warriors and more like the side we had grown used to before he joined, with the players bickering on the field and looking like a bunch of individuals instead of the focused team we have gotten used to. 
Many of the issues in this match are fixable and can be addressed, so I am not one of the people writing this side off now; this was an aberration, and we will see a bounce back sooner rather than later.
I have no excuses for this game, and I am happy to forget about it once this review is done.

There wasnt much to smile about this week, but I found a couple, which brings me to my positives.

Match Positives

We are another week closer to getting some troops back. Dylan Walker and Chanel Harris-Tavita should both be available this week. However, we still have the rest of the injured players who won't be in contention to return until after the Magic Round. I have been praising the club's depth, but with the middle stocks cleaned out, it has proven to be too much. 

Perhaps this result can provide a bit of a wakeup call; I'm not involved in the camp, but perhaps with all the praise in the media and being discussed all week due to the news of James Fisher-Harris joining the club in 2025 went to the player's heads or perhaps they came into this match taking the Dragons lightly. I can't confirm that by any stretch, but with how the team performed and how Webster used his bench, it looked like they weren't respecting the Dragons. A dangerous mistake in the NRL when any team on their day can beat anyone. This humbling performance may have come at the right time so they can refocus and return to climbing the ladder.

However, I did have plenty of concerns, which brings me to my negatives from the game.

Match Negatives

The Dragons got themselves into the battle on the back of the Warrior's ill-discipline and errors. They ended the match with 7 penalties conceded, 3 ruck infringements and 10 errors. Most of them were just coach-killer actions, and against any team, giving away 20 free sets will make getting the victory much harder. Just take a breath and focus on the basics; that has got the Warriors in the driver's seat in many of the contests this year, the way they play a more clinical style with a heavy focus on applying pressure. If they do that, I expect to see their performance improve.

The attack was a mess; they could not find a way through the Dragon's defence for large portions of the match, with the only tries coming from SJ taking advantage of the Dragons, assuming he was shifting it wide and not trying to shut him down and then the try to DWZ which is hard for any side to stop. It goes back to what I was saying earlier about the team visually bickering with each other; they were all out of sync, which was reflected in the attacking structure. Although I can't blame it all on the Warriors as the Dragons' defence was impressive, with a big highlight being when Tohu Harris got across the line, and the Dragons carried him back into the field of play. It was a tremendous effort from them; so much of the credit needs to go their way.

The Warriors' defence, however, could have been better; there were moments in this match where they looked like turnstiles with either poor communication or terrible technique. The two moments that stood out for me were the Ben Hunt try, which he should never have been able to score, and the Lomax try, where Montoya didn't even attempt to jump for the kick and was left to look silly. Defence is an attitude thing for the most part, so it wasnt a big surprise to see their defensive structures fall apart the further behind they got on the scoreboard. This is another easy fix for Webster and his team to work on before the next Round.

Warrior of the Match


My Warrior of the Match goes to Addin Fonua-Blake.
In a game full of disappointing performances, AFB had a strong outing, running for 255 metres, with 108 of those being post-contact metres. He made 23 tackles and was one of only two players (the other being Roger Tuivasa-Sheck) that ended the match with 0 missed tackles. Had big minutes, which we expected with the bench named as it was, but he was one of a select few who looked to be giving their all for the entire contest, albeit with a few uncharacteristic errors that he would wish he could take back. The news of James Fisher-Harris joining the club is excellent, but I will miss AFB when he leaves. I hope the club sends him out on a high note.

Warrior to Improve


My Player to improve is Marcelo Montoya.
This section was a tossup between Montoya and Jackson Ford this week, but after that Lomax try, I knew I had to go Montoya's way. He had quite a few moments in this game that put the Warriors on the back foot, that Lomax try, His error on the kick return and then the defensive effort that led to Ravalawa's try. Just not a great night out for the winger who, while he has improved a lot under Webster, he is still prone to an off night, which is what we saw here. I expect a bounceback, but if he has another effort like this, I would not be surprised to see Ed Kosi or Adam Pompey getting that wing spot.

Next Round Thoughts and Prediction


In Round 8, the Warriors head home to host an ANZAC Day clash for the first time since 2015 against the Gold Coast Titans, the same opponents they faced on this day nine years ago. The Titans are the only winless side left in the NRL, but they came close in Round 7 with a 34-30 loss against the Sea Eagles.
Regarding the team I would pick, they are low on troops, but if Dylan Walker and Chanel Harris-Tavita are cleared to play, I would bring them onto the bench, replacing Adam Pompey and Paul Roache in my only changes.

The Titans have had a shocking start to the season, but in the past two rounds, they have shown significant improvement, which has me a bit concerned; they are showing up and putting a lot of pressure on their opponents, and they cannot be taken lightly. This ANZAC Day game is a massive occasion that the Warriors have struggled with in the past; in front of another sellout crowd in Auckland, there will be some big expectations for the Warriors to walk away with the win here.
The Warriors just need to keep it simple, stick to the game plan of kicking to the corners and applying pressure, and reduce the errors and penalties, and the points will come.
I am confident of a bounce back, but it will be a close match, so I am picking the Warriors to win by 8.

So, that was a disappointing Round 7, but as usual, I will leave you with some questions.

Would you have given Zyon his chance?
Do you have any concerns after seeing the team bickering with each other?
How would you have used the bench in this match?
What is your score prediction against the Titans?

Monday, April 15, 2024

NZ Warriors 2024 Round 6 Review: Sea Eagles and Warriors Share Spoils in Intense 22-22 Stalemate

After their big win over the Rabbitohs, the Warriors returned to Auckland to host the Manly Sea Eagles.

In typical Auckland weather that couldn't make up its mind, the Sea Eagles started strong and looked to have the Warriors' number, but the home side dug deep and managed to force the match to Golden Point. Neither side could nail the victory, leading to this season's first draw, 22 all.

What Went Down


Both sides went set for set in the opening ten minutes before Manly seized their opportunity when Tom Trbojevic's close-range surge led to a fortuitous deflection, which was grounded by Daly Cherry-Evans. A second error from Jackson Ford gave Manly an opportunity to apply further pressure but despite a clever grubber from DCE, the Warriors managed to release some of the pressure by regaining possession from the short dropout. In the 24th minute, a slick move down the left flank saw Tommy Talau's precise kick set up DCE for his second try of the evening. Minutes later, some solid defence from Talau and Jake Trbojevic forced a Warriors error, allowing Tommy Turbo to send Talau over untouched to score the third try of the contest. 
An error from Manly in the 30th minute opened the door for the Warriors, who fired the ball out wide to Marcelo Montoya, but he was tackled over the sideline by Ben Trbojevic. The Warriors kept plugging away and finally found themselves getting some points with back-to-back tries, first when Tohu Harris fired a flat pass to Jazz Tevaga to crash over under the posts, then Dallin Watene-Zelezniak snatched an intercept to run over 50 metres to score and end the half with the Warriors trailing 16-12.

The Warriors looked certain to be the first team to score but appeared to panic on the last tackle, with the ball ending up in Addin Fonua-Blake's hands; his attempted offload went to the ground before being latched onto by Manly. The Sea Eagles then got a helping hand up the field from a Kurt Capewell penalty before crossing for the first try of the second when DCE sent passed the ball to Ben Trbojevich, who found a gap between Te Maire Martin and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck; this saw Manly extend their lead back out to 12 points. It was almost ten minutes before another scoring play developed when Shaun Johnson broke the line and backed himself as he evaded Turbo and dived over the line; he missed the conversion, which would prove to be a crucial miss. The try looked to reinvigorate both the Warriors and the home crowd as they surged up the field before a Johnson kick hit the posts, but the Warriors could not turn it into points as Tom Ales's offload went to ground. This saw the game become a mix of errors and staunch defence as both sides forced their opposite to start their sets from deep within their own halves. The Warrior's defence forced a few mistakes and spent a lot of time with the ball in hand but struggled to convert that possession into much-needed points until the 79th minute, where a delayed Johnson offload saw DWZ cross over in the corner to reduce the Sea Eagles lead to 2 points with a minute to go. The Warriors took little time to try and win the contest in the dying stages, rushing up the field before Johnson attempted a two-point field goal that missed as the final siren went, but we would not be done yet as the bunker was brought into the action when Chris Butler asked them to check the contact of Johnson from Josh Aloiai who deemed a penalty was worthy, which Johnson then slotted to see the scores level to send the match into Golden Point.

Both sides traded errors early on in overtime, but neither side could take advantage as the overtime period went the distance, with the only scoring opportunities coming from missed field goals from DCE and Johnson to see the game end as the first draw in 2024.

My Thoughts

Well, that was a rollercoaster of emotions. At 16-0 after the first 30 minutes, it looked like it was going to be a long night, but those two quick tries kept them in the hunt. That late-game comeback was an amazing situation to be in the Stadium for, especially when we have had to watch the opposition do that to the Warriors. Unfortunately, their game went backwards a little after I praised it last week. The defence, at times, was exposed, and the attack was just a touch out of sync. The final penalty, which forced the game into Golden Point, I don't deem as a penalty, but going off what happened last week to Freddy Lussick, they had to give it, so I will take it.
The issues I had with the performance are easy to address and correct, so I expect to see a vast improvement this week as the Warriors hit a series of games against bottom 9 teams.

It's disappointing not to get the win here, but after that fightback, I think they deserved the draw. Who knows what that single point could mean towards the end of the season? It could be a difference maker in their earning a higher spot without relying on points differential.

There were a few things to smile about this week, which brings me to my positives.

Match Positives

The defence in the final stages of regular time and then in Golden Point was impressive; they worked together and continually drove Manly backwards, aiding them in relieving the pressure and reapplying it on the Sea Eagles. It was a key factor in them getting back into the contest, and if they could bring that defensive structure to every game for 80 minutes, they would be in the driver's seat to get the win. 

AFB had another big game; with the injury to Bunty Afoa last week and then the Jazz Tevaga injury during this match, the front rows stocks are now scraping the barrel, so AFB had to put in the work and played for 74 minutes, ran for 196m and made 47 tackles. He has a hell of a motor on him, and I think the Warriors will be leaning on him until some of those experienced forwards return. Man, I am going to miss him in 2025, but I'm going to just enjoy watching him in 2024.

Lastly, the fightback, as I already mentioned, the Warriors were behind 16-0 in the first 30, and many teams would have simply given up, but they kept plugging away, trying to get back into the contest and refused to quit. This is the most important thing I want to see from the team every week, just give it 100% and never hang your head and throw in the towel. There will be games this year where the opposition may string a few tries together and build a lead, but after this effort, the side knows they have what it takes to get back into the fight, and that will be a great confidence builder for the rest of the season.

However, I did have some concerns, which brings me to my negatives from the game.

Match Negatives

I praised the late-stage defence, but the defence in the first hour of this game was a big concern; they were not working as a unit with DCE making easy work of their structure and tore them to shreds. The Sea Eagles troubled the Warriors with their second phase football, which was a concern I had with the Warrior's defence in 2023. It needs to be something that Webster and his team work on quickly. As you can imagine, the rest of the NRL teams will have this weakness noted and will look to utilise it. 

The errors killed any chances of the Warriors building momentum. They made 13 errors in this match, and while some of them may have been a bit dodgy, the Warriors cannot just give away that much free ball; in wet conditions, there were moments when they forced the passes while they played catchup footy, and they just didn't stick. Again, another aspect of their game that can be fixed is that they just have to focus, communicate, and not panic.

Lastly, the officials, before I move on, I am not trying to blame the referees. Still, I think Chris Butler had a very average game (in fact, you could say it was an average weekend for the officials in most games); watching in the Stadium, I had a decent view of the contest. Most of the time, Manly was not going back ten, and a few of the knock-ons and stripping calls seemed a bit dubious. Plus, the kick disruptor call was ridiculous and seemed to be the new conversation starter, with it being called in a few matches. It is another black-and-white rule that needs a bit of grey added a bit like the kick charge-down calls, which again, I think was a harsh call against Manly here; the officials have not been at the desired level so far in 2024, and hopefully, there will be some improvement soon because it takes some of the joy out of watching all eight games every week for me.

Warrior of the Match


My Warrior of the Match goes to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
CNK just brings 100% effort whenever he is on the pitch. He ran for 346 metres, had 8 tackle breaks, and was a constant threat to create opportunities with the ball in hand. He is just all heart and makes this team better by being on the pitch. Very sound under the high ball and doesn't shy away from doing the hard yards when the Warriors need him to. I was hoping to see him and RTS link up more than we saw here, but that combination will come in time.
Also, the chatter about RTS moving to the fullback spot is still around, but it is getting quieter, which is great because I am team CNK Fullback.

Warrior to Improve


My Player to improve is Jackson Ford.
Ford's second selection of the season was a tough one this week, with a few players not having the best nights. He was good defensively, making 48 tackles with only 2 misses, but he led the Warriors with 3 errors, and kind of went into his shell after that, with only 6 runs against his name. He is a very solid player, but when he gets a case of the dropsies, he finds it hard to shake, which is a shame as his line running is fantastic, and when he holds onto the ball, he is hard to top. He was taken off the field in the 75th minute, which is unusual for the 80-minute player, but at the stage of the game, the Warriors needed players out there that they could trust to hold onto the ball. I'm expecting a big bounceback from him this week, which he may need, with Jacob Laban continuing to impress with the small chances he is getting.

Next Round Thoughts and Prediction


In Round 7, the Warriors head back across the ditch to WIN Stadium to face the Dragons, who defeated the Wests Tigers 24-12 in Round 6.
Regarding the team I would pick, I would keep it the same. With Jazz Tevaga out due to his hamstring injury, it means the Warriors need to grab a youngster, so I think this week is the time to give Zyon Maiu'i his shot. I hope it happens, as I have big wraps on him and want to see him knock it out of the park.

If any of you have read my stuff for a while, you would know I do not like the Dragons at all. They have been a bit up and down this season. They are not a great team, but Ben Hunt is always dangerous, and Zac Lomax has been an amazing attacking weapon on the wing. So he will be their main target, and the Warriors will need to keep him quiet, which is easier said than done.
The Warriors need to reduce their errors and stick to their game plan of controlling the middle, pushing those kicks to the corner, and forcing the Dragons to play from deep within their own half.
If they do that for 80 minutes, they should walk away with a convincing win, so I am going all in and picking the Warriors to win by 18.

So, that was a tense Round 6, but as usual, I will leave you with some questions.

Who would you bring in for Jazz?
Would you drop Ford for Laban or give him more time?
How would you improve the NRL officiating?
What is your score prediction against the Dragons?

Monday, April 8, 2024

NZ Warriors 2024 Round 5 Review: Warriors End Souths Hoodoo in Dominant Style

 

After earning their second win of the season, the Warriors made the journey back to Australia to face a Rabbitohs side that they have not been able to defeat since 2018.

With several last-minute injuries causing the Warriors' lineup to change with some big outs, the side started on the backfoot but started to click around the 10th minute, putting on their most dominant display in 2024 with a 34-4 victory.

What Went Down


It wasnt an ideal start for the Warriors as they huddled under the goalposts after just five minutes when the Rabbitohs tested their right-edge defence, which saw Izaac Thompson break the line and then step Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad for the first points of the match. The Warriors wasted little time striking back, taking advantage of a Rabbitohs error when Rocco Berry barged over after receiving a trademark Shaun Johnson flat pass; Johnson's conversion handed the Warriors the lead. Both sides traded sets and errors for the next 20 minutes, with the Rabbitohs discipline causing them plenty of issues, including seeing Latrell Mitchell placed on report twice. With the pressure building, the Warriors were over again, with Johnson hitting another flat pass, this time to Jackson Ford, who crashed over for his third try of the season. The Warriors weren't finished yet as they closed the first half with another try when Nicoll-Klokstad broke the line before sending Johnson over under the posts to see the visitors enter the sheds with an 18-4 lead.

The second half started in the same manner, the Rabbitohs making another error before the Warriors punished them for it after Wayde Egan threw an offload to Te Maire Martin, who, in open space, got the ball to Johnson for his second try of the day. With a win almost already in the books, the game settled into a grind, but the Rabbitohs continued to be their own worst enemy, with the Warrior's defence proving more than capable of keeping the home side unsettled. In the final 20 minutes, the Warriors crossed two more times, the first in the 61st minute when they shifted right like we have seen so often since 2023, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck replacing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak as the finisher as he dived over in the corner to score in his 200th NRL match before Te Maire Martin displayed a nice bit of individual brilliance to bob and weave his way over the line in the 70th minute in what would be the final scoring play of the match in a commanding 34-4 victory.

My Thoughts

Well, that's three on the trot. While I predicted a Warriors win here, I did not expect them to win by 30, especially with the side having to play without Marata Niukore, Kurt Capewell and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. To be fair, the Rabbitohs have been embarrassing poor this season, but as we saw last year when they were in their funk, they just seemed to find a way to step up and beat the Warriors, and it looked like it was going to be that way again in the first 10 minutes when Souths were punishing the Warriors right edge defence, but the Warriors weathered the Storm and then just took control. 
I'm not the smartest guy out there talking football, but from what I have seen this year, the Warriors' game plan is all about pressure. They force the opposition to fight their way off their own try line with deep kicks and quick kick chasers. Then they keep their attack simple and just keep plugging away, knowing their opposition will eventually give them an opportunity. They have taken their defence to another level. They have conceded the least amount of points this season to date, and if they keep that up, it will take them a long way to earning a shot at the premiership.
It may not be highlight-reel-worthy football, but it wins matches, and that is the point.

This team just keeps improving. There is still a hell of a long way to go this season and plenty to work on, but the signs look promising.

There was more to smile about this week, which brings me to my positives.

Match Positives

The attack continues to develop; I said there was a link missing, and with the return of CNK, we saw that link return; he is such a valuable asset when he joins the attack, as we saw with some great runs and link plays he was involved in. With the spine almost all back (you could say completely back if you are Team TMM) and CNK, Egan and SJ are combining so well. You know, if they are all out there together, they will get points on the board.

I feel like a broken record, but the forwards killed it again; this Rabbitohs pack is no joke, and the Warriors bullied them with ease; all the forwards, with the exception of Bunty Afoa (who went off injured) and Jacob Laban, cracked my triple digit target. Addin Fonua-Blake (192m), Mitchell Barnett (129m), Tohu Harris (127m), Jazz Tevaga (113m), Jackson Ford (104m) and Tom Ale (100m). It has got to a point where we shouldn't be surprised about how good this pack is, but I still want to see them go toe-to-toe with the Panthers and Broncos packs because then we will know how good the Warriors forwards actually are.

In my preseason review, I praised the Warriors' depth, but man, it is coming in clutch right now to win in this manner with so many players out, which is an impressive statement. To see this side continue to put in good performances regardless of the players in the 17 jerseys is a testament to the coaching staff; the next-man-up approach is working, and when the young guns like Jacob Laban get their chance, they come out looking like they belong which is precisely what you want from your fringe players. While I want to see what this side can do when the best 17 men are out there, it gives me confidence that this side is less likely to be derailed by injuries.

However, I did have some concerns, which brings me to my negatives from the game.

Match Negatives

That right-edged defence looked shocking at the start of this match, I expected it to be messy with RTS on the wing and the combination being new, but as the game progressed, it did show improvement. I can give them some slack as it wasnt the planned edge during the week, but you know, against a better side, that kind of clunkiness will get punished, so hopefully, this is something that is worked on during the week just in case we see that combination on that edge again.

I just praised the squad's depth, but these injuries are soul-crushing. I am concerned with Niukore and his health. He was my guy to replace AFB, but if he continues to struggle to get on the pitch, then that will be almost impossible for him to do. We are five rounds in and have yet to see the main 17 actually play, so hopefully, the injuries will start to slow down, and lady luck will start to be on the Warriors' side.

Warrior of the Match


My Warrior of the Match goes to Wayde Egan.
Egan was a beast in this match, constantly scooting out of the ruck and causing the Rabbitohs plenty of headaches. He was a key figure in most of the Warriors' tries and defended the middle valiantly. I have mentioned the depth, but I think Egan is the only player the Warriors cannot play without. He works so well with the halves, and with the forwards rolling forward, it makes his job much easier. He has had his fair share of criticism from fans, media and me, but he is making us all eat our words. I believe he hasn't hit his best yet, so I look forward to seeing how much more he can grow.

Warrior to Improve


My Player to improve is Jazz Tevaga.
I feel like I'm being a bit harsh here as I thought that all the players did well, and Jazz had great stats, running for 113 metres and making 15 tackles, but his two errors (it felt like more) really stuck out for me. When everyone is healthy, the competition for spots is fierce, and if he doesn't sort his hands out, he may struggle for game time, which he desperately needs with no contract signed yet for 2025 if he wants to stay in the NRL with the Warriors or another club he needs to show how good he can be and reduce the schoolboy's errors, he has already improved his discipline, so I know he can sort the rest.

Next Round Thoughts and Prediction


In Round 6, the Warriors return to Go Media stadium to host the Sea Eagles, who bounced back in Round 5 with a 32-18 win over the Panthers.
Regarding the team I would pick, I would just bring back any players that missed this match with injury, so DWZ, Capewell and Walker come back if fit, replacing Pompey, Tevaga and Laban.

The Sea Eagles have been up and down this season, winning over the Rabbitohs, Roosters, and Panthers but also losing to the Dragons and Eels. So it is hard to say what Manly will show up. They have superstars who could cause havoc and a pack that could humble the Warriors if they are not in the right mindset.
However, if the Warriors' forwards do what they have done every week so far, they will control the middle, which will unleash the Warriors' spine. We can finally see if CNK can unleash RTS as a centre-attacking weapon. Add to that their strong defence and a win should almost be in the bag.
I am feeling confident, so I am going with a Warriors win by 12.

So, that was a great Round 5, but as usual, I will leave you with some questions.

What changes would you make to the 17 if the players missing here return?
What did you think of Laban's debut?
Who was your player of the day?
What is your score prediction against the Sea Eagles?