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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

NRL 2016 Round 15 Review: Warriors pushed to limit in messy performance

Copyright Photo: Fiona Goodall /
After back to back impressive results, the Vodafone Warriors had a lot of momentum going into their Round 15 clash with the Sydney Roosters.
The last time these teams faced each other resulted in a Golden Point victory to the Warriors and this matchup proved just as tight with the Warriors holding on to win 12-10.

The Roosters defense was impressive and they keep pushing a Warriors team that has scored 86 points in the past fortnight backwards.
The Warriors lost Ken Maumalo to the sin bin and lost Thomas Leuluai for the game with a head knock, Albert Vete was also taken off for a concussion test and going into half time the Warriors only had 2 points from a penalty goal with the Roosters leading 4-2.
The second half was more of the same, the Roosters let themselves down with penalties for continually slowing down the ruck and this kept the Warriors in the game with Issac Luke kicking two more Penalty goals.
Shaun Johnson showed some of his brilliance to score the Warriors solo try for the match and after that it was a waiting game with both teams trading the ball and trying to snatch the victory but despite how messy it looked the Warriors got the job done.

This was the first time since July 2015 that the Warriors have won three matches in a row but to call a spade a spade this was a sloppy performance from the home side.
Losing Thomas Leuluai early in the first half to his head knock did not help the Warriors cause as when he left the Warriors appeared lost on attack.
Shaun Johnson was not 100% fit and it showed in his game as he did not attack the line like he has been the past fortnight but he played smart and only hit the line when he saw an opportunity like when he opted to run on his own on the last tackle and scored the Warriors only try.
David Fusitu’a disappeared when he was moved to fullback after Thomas Leuluai left the field and Tuimoala Lolohea at times looked out of his depth playing in the halves.
Ken Maumalo had a shaky start to his return to first grade with his sin-binning but when he returned to the field he made some solid runs to help the Warriors start their sets strong.
The quick line speed of the past fortnight vanished and the silly errors that plagued this team in the early stages of the season crept back into the game.

But it’s not all negative though as this tough grinding win is a win the Warriors would not have gotten earlier in the season.
This display of toughness and the ability to hold onto a lead no matter how slim is what is required in the weeks to come.
The way the Warriors kept plugging away and not dropping their heads when an error was made was to be commended as for too long this side has been known for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The return on Jacob Lillyman next round after State of Origin duty will be a welcome return as his hit-ups were sorely missed.

My player of the game goes to Issac Luke.
When Thomas Leuluai left the field Issac took on a bigger playmaking role in this game and was effective running out of dummy half and got the Warriors out of trouble many times.
In the past month, Issac has finally started to return to the form that was expected of him during his time with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come as the Warriors need Issac to perform like this consistently as they claw their way back into the playoff hunt.

My player who needs to improve this week is David Fusitu’a.
After an amazing game last week David had a lot of expectations placed on him and he just didn’t deliver, the move to Fullback seemed to take him out of the game completely.
He needed to insert himself into the game and he just didn’t, maybe we have been spoilt with Tuimoala Lolohea playing at Fullback as he constantly gets involved.
David is young and still getting used to playing first grade so he will learn to get more involved.

This round the Warriors are heading to Sydney to face the Cronulla Sharks in what is surely going to be a tough encounter.
The Sharks have been in tremendous form and after a 10 game winning streak sit atop the NRL Table.
The Warriors will need to play exceptionally well to get the win but the Warriors enjoy being the underdog so this game could be theirs to take.

What did you think of the game against the Roosters?
Who stood out for you in this match?
What do you think are the Warriors chances this week against the Sharks?

Comment and let me know.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

NRL 2016 Round 14 Review: Fusitu’a shines in Newcastle

Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser /
After an impressive performance in Round 13 against the Brisbane Broncos, the Vodafone Warriors made the journey to Newcastle to play Newcastle Knights.
The Warriors were expected to continue in the same form they displayed last round but with some early errors made in the first half the Knights were keeping themselves in the game and by halftime were only behind the Warriors 22-14.
The second half started and David Fusitu’a arrived with three tries back to back and the Warriors put their foot down and ran away with a 50-14 victory.

Well, what can I say about this result?
The Warriors were always expected to come away with a large victory over what has been a woeful Knights team but I think what impressed me more was the defense.
In the first half, the Warriors made some errors and silly penalties in their own half but kept the Knights from scoring.
The line speed was impressive for the second week in a row; the team shifted sideways as a unit and did not leave gaps for the Knights to target and by the time the second half had started the Knights were completely out of options and to the Warriors credit they did not let the pressure off and continued to score.
Was it a perfect performance? No definitely not, the Warriors still continue to have handling errors in their game and if they don’t eliminate those they could find themselves in trouble against the top four sides in the NRL.
The missed talked and penalties have reduced dramatically and I think this is an ongoing sign of the attitude change this team has had, Attitude makes a huge difference and if the Warriors keep this attitude on board I feel that the playoff-bound clubs will be watching over their shoulders as a confident Warriors team is a dangerous team.

My player of the day goes unsurprisingly to David Fusitu’a.
After scoring two tries against the Broncos last week, David turned it up a notch and bagged four tries in this match.
With Manu Vatuvei nearing retirement age for a League player David is putting his hand up to take the Beast’s try-scoring heroics over.
He is fast, strong and his ability to score in the corner continues to amaze me, unfortunately, injuries have plagued his short career so far but if he can keep healthy he will be a key contributor to the Warriors for years to come.

And for the second week in the round I could not pick a player that needs to improve, I have watched this game countless times now and I find it hard to nitpick a player that let the team down simply because right now this team is playing for each other and I'm hoping this is a trait that is going to stick around.

Round  15 sees the Warriors return to Mount Smart Stadium and play the Sydney Roosters.
The Roosters have been uncharismatically poor this season but this does not mean that they will be easy beats for the Warriors, just remember it took a Golden Point try by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for the Warriors to defeat them in Round 5 earlier this season.
The Warriors need to be prepared for a tough physical battle in the forwards and need to bring the same defensive mindset from the past fortnight if they are to come away with the victory.
I'm expecting a Warriors win here but I don’t see it being a blowout like the past two rounds and the Warriors will win by around 10 points.

What are your thoughts on this performance?
Is David Fusitu’a going to be the Warriors new Beast?
How do you see this weeks game going,  A Warriors blowout, close win or a loss?

Comment below and let me know.

Monday, 6 June 2016

NRL 2016 Round 13 Review: Warriors too much for Bumbling Bronco’s

Copyright Photo:
The Vodafone Warriors turned Horse Whisperers in their round 13 match-up
 with the Brisbane Bronco’s running away with a 36-18 victory at Mount Smart Stadium.
Andrew McFadden stated during the week that the Warriors needed to have a more positive attack in order to increase the team’s confidence which will, in turn, improve their defensive efforts.
The Warriors were granted a free licence and they took it with both hands.
Right from Albert Vete’s first hit up you could clearly see that the team’s attitude had vastly improved.
The attitude and commitment from this team showed in this match has been something the fans have been begging for since the beginning of the season.
The Warriors no longer looked lost on attack, the forwards were chewing up the metres which let Issac Luke get a roll on from the play the ball, this caused the broncos to constantly be on the back foot.
With the forwards dominating Shaun Johnson finally got attack the line and be the devastating attack player that he is known to be.

Everything seemed to work for the Warriors in this game, most of the offloads stuck, they gave themselves plenty of attacking opportunities and after 21 minutes they were 18-0 up after some clever plays from Shaun Johnson scoring a try himself and setting Bodene Thompson up for another, Jacob Lillyman scored the third from a nicely placed grubber from Issac Luke.
The Broncos tried to get themselves back into the match with a try to Alex Glenn and before the end of the first half they had two tries pulled back for forward passes to go into halftime 18-6 down.
The Warriors have folded from here in the past but two minutes in the Warriors were over again through an amazing diving try by David Fusitu’a.
The Warriors scored three more tries through Ryan Hoffman, David Fusitu’a, and Solomone Kata and the Broncos could only manage two more tries to Jordan Kahu and Tevita Pangai but the Broncos were never in this match and were possibly lucky to only have lost 36-18.
The Warriors line speed was the best I have seen for month’s maybe even years, missed tackles were few and far between.
The silly errors and penalties that have plagued this side this season were gone.

My player of the day goes to Shaun Johnson, with the forwards doing the hard yards up front he had free reign in this game and he took full advantage, an attacking Shaun is a dangerous Shaun and the fans will be hoping that this version is here to stay this season.

As for my player who needs to improve, well I cannot pick a player who needs to improve this week as I can’t point out anyone who let the team down, this was the first complete team effort we have seen this year.

Have things started to click with the Warriors?
Did Konrad Hurrell’s exit last week help realign this team as a unit and or perhaps the players only honesty session last week helped the players get onto the same page.
In all honesty, I think it’s a bit of all of the above.
Whatever was said in the honesty session seems to have helped this team actually buy into what this club is trying to become.
Does this mean that the season is saved? No possibly not, this is just a step in the right direction but the team needs to continue to bring the right attitude each and every week.

The Warriors face the Newcastle Knights in Round 14 and even though the Knights have only managed one win season the Warriors cannot let their guard down, their current points differential is not going to do them any favours so they really need to put some big performances on to bring them into contention with the top 8.

Who were your key players in this victory?
What do think was the reason for this change in performance and is this a permanent change for the season?

Comment and let me know.