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Thursday, 28 July 2016

NRL 2016 Round 20 Review: Late fight back not enough for Warriors

Copyright Photo: Mitch Cameron /
The Warriors lost 26-22 in their second Golden Point defeat in a row in what was their third Golden Point loss in Four Games.
The 26-22 scoreline was flattering for the Warriors as the Raiders were on their way to a large victory until Thomas Leuluai and David Fusitu’a clawed the Warriors back into the game.
Unfortunately, the Warriors continued their recent trend and could not close out the game and succumbed to the third try of a Jarrod Croker hat trick.

The Warriors showed intent on attack but lacked execution and failed to convert on the chances that the Raiders gave them.
The defensive line speed was not to the level we have come to expect in the past two months and hopefully, this is not a sign of the return of the end of the season slide the Warriors presented us with last season.
If the Warriors can improve their line speed and start to threaten on attack again, they still will have a chance to play finals football.
I believe they need to win at least four of the last six games which with their run home is still manageable.

My player of the day goes to Thomas Leuluai.
He played his heart out and when the Warriors needed a miracle he brought them back into the game by just simply attacking the line (Which is a subject I am going to mention below).
The Warriors are going to miss Thomas next season; he is the settled solid Ying to Shaun Johnson’s Yang.
His defense is underrated for a half and whoever is going to take his place next season has a lot to live up too.
I’m still not sold on Tuimoala Lolohea being five-eighth next season but I am happy to be proved wrong.

My player who needs to improve goes to Shaun Johnson.
Shaun needs to get back to attacking the line, my memory may be fuzzy but I do not recall Shaun running even once in this game.
When Shaun hits the line he puts the defense in two minds which opens up opportunities not just for him but for the entire team, if the Warriors are to play finals football Shaun needs to step up and return to his attacking form.

This week the Warriors return to Mount Smart to face the Penrith Panthers in a must-win match.
Both teams are neck in neck in the quest to make the eight.
The Panthers always seem to perform against the Warriors so this will be a tough battle.
If the Warriors can improve their execution and put pressure on Nathan Cleary the battle will be half won.
Andrew McFadden has selected an interesting side with Tuimoala Lolohea moving to fullback with David Fusitu’a going to centre and Blake Ayshford being sent to the interchange.
I’m not sure about the side as I like David at fullback and I think having a centre on the interchange is a waste of an interchange spot but will don’t know what Andrew’s game plan is until we witness it unfold on Saturday night.
I’m picking the Warriors to win this won by 6 and hopefully we do not witness another Golden Point heartbreaker.

What were your thoughts on the game?
Who was the standout player for you?
Who was the disappointment?
What do you think of McFadden’s 17 for the Panthers game?
Let me know below.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

NRL 2016 Round 19 Review: Perth Curse Continues

Copyright Photo: Daniel Carson /
The Warriors made the long journey over to Perth to play the Manly Sea eagles in Round 19, and the horrible track record the Warriors have playing in Perth and also playing in Sea Eagles continued with the Warriors losing in Golden Point 15-14.
Both of the Warriors defeats in the past month have been in Golden Point, which shows that the Warriors have improved and are no longer a 60minute team, this team now needs to focus on closing games out and if they find themselves in Golden Point situations again how to set up for the wind (No props sitting at first receiver and trying to kick field goals).

The Weather for this game was miserable and the Warriors made the game a lot harder for themselves with some poor defence and the Sea Eagles scored some quick tries and took advantage of the Warriors poor discipline and slotted a penalty goal.
Bunty Afoa continued his dream start as a Warrior scoring two tries back to back bringing the Warriors back into the game at halftime only being behind  14-12.
The second half was a tight encounter with the only points scored via an Issac Luke penalty goal.
The Warriors had a chance to take the game with Solomona Kata failing to dive on the ball over the line and then minutes later Manu Vatuvei was forced over the sideline.
Then in what was one of the most confusing moments in this contest Sam Lisone stood in at first receiver on the last tackle and made the worst attempt of a Field Goal I’ve seen in many years.
After that disaster, both teams went into Golden Point and after a few missed attempts, Daly Cherry-Evans broke the Warriors fans hearts when he finally slotted the winning field goal.

Firstly as a former prop I had dreams of getting a game-winning field goal but I was never stupid enough to try and do it in an actual game, I have no idea what Sam Lisone was thinking and I really hope that Sam finally starts to understand that he is not a playmaker and focusses on getting the Warriors going forward with big runs.

Secondly the Warriors have improved in the past month and are now no longer a 60 minute team but the Warriors need to improve their ability to close games out, in both Golden Point losses it looked like the Warriors were clueless, if the Warriors want to be a consistent threat in the NRL they need to improve their execution, which brings me to my last thought…..

Thirdly the use (Or lack Thereof) of Tuimoala Lolohea.
Lolohea was not used until the 82 minute of this game and has again been named on the bench for Round 20.
Now unlike a lot of the Warriors fans I do not think Lolohea is going to work for us in the halves as I feel his game style is too similar to Shaun Johnsons and if you look at when Shaun plays his best, it is when he has a stable half partner.
Now I could be completely wrong and the two of them in the halves could be a master stroke, but in regards to where he should be playing right now I would be playing him at centre and moving Solomona Kata to the wing and I would move Manu Vatuvei to the bench and use him as a Forward of the bench as Manu’s time on the wing is done but the Warriors can still use him for his metre gaining ability up the middle.

My Warrior of the day goes to Bunty Afoa, this young man as done nothing but impress me in his first two games.
His defensive game, attacking ability and general game day attitude are all remarkable for a young man at the start of his career and I think he will be putting a lot of pressure on the senior members of this team and make them fight for their spot in the game day 17.

My player that needs to improve goes to Sam Lisone.
I'm sorry to mention it again but Sam you are a prop forward, you may (Like most props I know) think that you have all the playmaking skills in the world but in reality, you don’t and you need to leave the pretty stuff to the backs.
You do not see Charlie Gubb trying to be a playmaker, do yourself and the Warriors a favour and follow in Charlie's footsteps, please.

The Warriors travel to Canberra to face the Raiders in what is a must-win game for them now.
Another lost could see the Warriors fall out of playoff contention.
The last truly horrible performance from the Warriors was also against the Raiders so they will look at making amends for that performance.
The pundits and experts have all picked the Raiders to win this one but I have a feeling that the Warriors are going to fire for this game and pick the Warriors to win by 12 or under.

What were your thoughts on the Perth performance?
Do you think Tui best position is five-eighth?
What would you do with Manu?
And lastly, if you were in Sam’s shoes would you have tried to kick the game-winning field goal?

Let me know you thoughts down below

Sunday, 10 July 2016

NRL 2016 Round 17 Review: Victory in Mannering Milestone

Copyright Photo: Fiona Goodall /
Round 17 saw the Warriors face the Gold Coast Titans in a hard fought encounter.
In a match that was not only Simon Mannering’s 250th game as a Vodafone Warrior but also the 250th game played at Mount Smart Stadium, the Warriors came from behind to defeat the Titans 27-18.

The Titans were quick to silence the boisterous Warriors fans with a quick 90 meter try to Josh Hoffman from a poorly placed grubber kick from Blake Ayshford, Blake made up for his error a few minutes later with an 85-metre intercept try.
Both teams went back and forth until the Titans got their second try by using Nene Macdonald’s height advantage over Tuimoala Lolohea.
An Error from the Titans gave the Warriors a sniff and they took it with both hands with Tuimoala Lolohea scoring with mere inches to spare in the corner making it 10 all at halftime.
Both sides traded penalty goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half and the game was on a knife-edge until Shaun Johnson took advantage of a gap in the Titans defensive line and scored a 60-metre try.
Bodene Thompson scored minutes later to take the game out of reach for the Titans who did finish the game with a late try to Cameron Cullen.

Overall it wasn’t the best display from the Warriors but they managed to claw their way back into the game and take advantage of the Titans errors.
Their defensive line was a let-down and they need to regain the defensive line speed that has been so impressive in the past month.
The forwards need to focus winning the battle up the middle because the backline will not be able to be unleashed if they are continually on the back foot.
But on a positive note the Warriors are playing tough and getting results, they also no play for the entire 80 minutes instead of falling off in the final 20minutes which will worry a lot of teams that have to face them in the upcoming rounds.

My player of the day goes to Bodene Thompson.
Yet again Bodene put in another impressive display, I would place him as my player of the year so far as although he may not be scoring the fancy tries he is making a lot of the metres each week for the team and is always high up on the teams tackle count.

My player who needs to improve this round goes to Charlie Gubb.
With Ryan Hoffman being ruled out of the game with a virus, Charlie made the move to the starting lineup as Lock and I’m not sure if he was uncomfortable in that position or if he is not fit enough to be playing big minutes.
I'm sure the performance of debutant Bunty Afoa did not help matters as Bunty played a tremendous game and kept Charlie on the sidelines with his performance.
Both Charlie and Bunty have tremendous abilities and will have big futures with this club and I'm confident Charlie will learn from this game and come back strong in the weeks to come.

This win took the Warriors into the top eight and with a bye in Round 18 the Warriors get another two points and will stay in the eight.
The road home is not that bad for the side with only one game against a current top four side so if the Warriors continue to play the way they have in the past 6 weeks they have a very good chance of playing finals football for the first time since 2011.
Round 19 sees the Warriors travel to Perth to play the Manly Sea-Eagles in what will be a very tough game.
The Warriors have not had a good time in Perth but this Warriors team has shown that they can overcome adversity and I believe they will be leaving Perth with the victory over what has been a disappointing Manly team.

What are your thoughts on
the game vs the Titans?
Who do you think had the best performance?
Where do you think the Warriors will end up on the ladder by the end of round 26?
Let me know down below.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

NRL 2016 Round 16 Review: Warriors go down in Golden Point Nailbiter

Copyright Photo: Mitch Cameron /
After a tough performance in round 15, the Warriors travelled to Cronulla to face the first place Sharks.
The Warriors have had three wins on the trot but the Sharks have been playing well and are currently on a 10 game winning streak.
My thoughts before the match were optimistically hopeful of the Warriors pulling out an upset but I can honestly admit I was worried that the Warriors would get dealt too by the well-oiled Sharks team.
Thankfully that was not the case as the Warriors were the better performing team on the night but lost by a James Maloney field goal in golden point.

The Warriors elected to move Tuimoala Lolohea to the bench and start Jonathan Wright on the wing in what was, in my opinion, a strange choice given how key Lolohea has been to this Warriors side this season.
In the first 30 minutes, the Warriors made too many errors but the improved defense we have witnessed from this side the past month keep the Sharks from scoring from these errors.
The Warriors crossed first with Blake Ayshford taking advantage of a nice break from David Fusitu’a and then moments later Jonathan Wright went over after Shaun Johnson broke through the Sharks line.
With ten minutes to go in the first half, the Warriors appeared to have a lapse in performance and the Sharks took advantage scoring back to back tries through Michael Ennis and Ricky Leutele to take the lead into halftime 12-10.
The Warriors looked to come out in the second half in the same way they started the first half until Jonathan Wright dropped a pass with no one in front of him, the Sharks again took advantage of this and went the length of the field and were awarded a penalty try after Simon Mannering held back Jason Bakuya.
After a lot of back and forth, Thomas Leuluai managed to get across the line and a penalty goal by Issac Luke tied the match up and took the game into golden point.
Both teams had chances of taking the match in golden point before James Maloney slotted a horrible looking field goal to get the eleventh win in a row for the Sharks.

This game was by far one of the better performances by the Warriors this season, yes there were still silly errors and penalties and at times the defensive line fell apart but this team has shown that they can play arguably the best team in the NRL this season at their home ground and push them to the limit.
I believe that the Warriors were the better side on the day and if Lolohea was starting instead of Wright and the penalty try wasn’t awarded that the Warriors would have walked away with the win.
The penalty try is a head scratcher for me as I don’t believe it was the right call, it should have been a sin-binning to Simon and a penalty as you could not say that the Sharks were certain to score in that situation.
Overall I was happy with the performance, there is still lots to work on but the remaining games left for the Warriors this season is not that bad with only one game left against a current top four side so they still have a chance to get into the top eight (Especially once the Eels have their points deducted – if that ever actually happens).

My player of the game goes to Simon Mannering, Simon was on fire in this game with the only mistake being the penalty try.
He made 69 tackles in this match (The most by any player this round) and gives his all every game, I think standing down as captain has helped him focus on getting back to the level we expect from him as Warriors fans.
If he continues to perform like this the Warriors will be climbing up the ladder in no time.
My player who needs to improve is Jonathan Wright, his ball handling is in need of a lot of work, you can give him a pass of the dropped intercept and perhaps even the second intercept attempt (I think the correct call would have been to dive on the ball instead of trying to scoop it up), but dropping the ball when you are metres from the try line with no defenders in front of you is soul destroying for a fan to witness.
I think Wright is a decent footballer but should only be making the Warriors side as injury cover and should never get the call up over Lolohea again.

This week the Warriors face the Gold Coast Titans at Mount Smart Stadium in what is the 250th game played at Mount Smart and also Simon Mannering's 250th game.
This is yet again another must win for the Warriors and this special occasion will only help the Warriors run away with the win here, so I'm picking the Warriors to win 13+.

What were your thoughts on the game vs the Sharks?
Was the penalty try ruling correct?
Would you have Jonathan Wright in your lineup?
What’s your score prediction against the Titans?

Comment and let me know.