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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

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

Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /
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 had 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 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 /
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, Ken 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.

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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 utilised 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 Warriors 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 negatively affect teams 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?

Monday, 22 May 2017

NZ Warriors Round 11 Review: Embarrassment continues in the Tron

Copyright Photo: Bruce Lim /
After Round 10's second half implosion, the Warriors travelled south of the Bombay's to face the St George Illawarra Dragons in Hamilton.
A much-improved performance was required if the Warriors were going to come away with the sorely needed win.
The Warriors woes continued however with the Dragons putting on a dominating display and soundly defeated the Warriors 30-14.

The Warriors were quick out of the gates for the third match in a row with a try to Ben Matulino in his 200th game for the Warriors at the 13-minute mark.
The Dragons struck back with a vengeance with three tries in 15 minutes to Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa, Joel Thompson and Timoteo Lafai.
With the first half coming to a close the Warriors managed to cross the line with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad after the Dragons failed to defuse a Warriors kick, putting the Warriors behind 18-10 at the break.
This would be the last time the Warriors were close to competing in this match as the Dragons continued to break the line at will.
Three more tries in the first 20 minutes of the second half to Nene Macdonald, Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa and Tanne Milne put the game out of contention for the Warriors.
The only Warriors highlight being another try to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in the dying moments of the match to end the game with the Warriors still searching for answers after a sound 30-14 defeat.

Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /
My Warrior of the game for the second week in a row goes to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
The past two performances have been horrible, and Charnze has been the only highlight.
With his pace and a nose for the try line, he has been a welcome addition to the Warriors back line.
His ability to turn the little chances he was given into scoring opportunities is a definite bonus to this side and if the team can turn their performances around the sky is the limit for this youngster.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Lim /
My Warrior who needs to improve, well that could go to so many players after this performance, but I have selected Charlie Gubb.
With the Dragons having such a massive forward pack all the Warriors forwards needed to front and Charlie just didn't show up in this match. He played for 26 minutes and only ran the ball 4 times for 41 metres and only made 17 tackles.
Comparing his stats with Sam Lisone who only played for an extra 5 minutes but ran 10 times for 100 metres and made 20 tackles, he was also the only prop to not pass 100 metres in this game.
With Ben Matulino back in the side and James Gavet being the Warriors best prop to date this season there, not to mention Albert Vete pushing to be brought back to first grade there is no room for Charlie if he doesn't improve his work rate.

Wow, just wow.
I don't even know where to begin with this match.
No matter how you try to paint it the Warriors were hopeless, 57 missed tackles, 20 offloads to 2 and 9 line breaks to 1.
This team is in trouble, Stephen Kearney has tried to change the Warriors into a defensive orientated side with less focus on the trademark "Razzle Dazzle", and this is failing.
This new style only works when you can tackle, but the Warriors are failing at the first hurdle, the Dragons were offloading at will with the Warriors failing to wrap the Dragons up.
Defence is down to attitude and the Warriors attitude needs serious adjustment.

How do you fix it? 
Is a player clean out required? I'm not sure the Warriors fans can handle a rebuilding season after so many years of disappointment.
I think some of the more experienced players may need a wake-up call in the reserve grade.
A few hungry youngsters fighting for chances may be just what this side needs to try and get themselves back in the winning circle, and lets be honest the youngsters couldn't play any worse than what this team is currently offering.
Confidence is down but is up to the Warriors to get themselves back on track, the fans can't do it for them, but maybe some young, enthusiastic players can help jump start the season.
Kearney continues to preach his process, but it is clearly not working, watching him at the press conference he looks out of his depth, but the Warriors cannot flick another coach, so he needs to put on his big boy pants and find a way to turn this side around.

The Warriors now have four wins out of eleven matches and sit at 13th on the ladder.
If the Warriors are going to turn their season around, they need to do it this week when they face the Brisbane Broncos at Mount Smart in Round 12.
The Warriors are about to hit their favourite time of year with the Origin period starting and will no doubt be playing a Broncos side that will be severely depleted with players away in origin camp, so they really have no excuses to not walk away with a win.
If the Broncos are depleted, I am picking the Warriors to win by 10 but if the Broncos have a fair share of their starters playing I will have to say the Broncos will win by 14.

So that was Round 11, another embarrassing performance that leaves more questions than answers, and as per usual, I will leave you with some of those questions.

How can the Warriors improve their attitude?
Do you think the Warriors can turn their season around?
Which players would you bring in from reserve grade to try and add a spark to this side?
What do you think the score will be against Brisbane?

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

NZ Warriors Round 10 Review: Warriors go from Wow to Woe in Second half collapse

Copyright Photo: Jason McCauley /
After the Round 9 close victory over the Roosters and a week away from the NRL for international duties, the Warriors travelled to Pepper Stadium to face the Penrith Panthers.
After two rounds where the Warriors defence was a highlight, this performance highlighted the Warriors defence in a negative light after the Warriors blew a 22 point lead to lose 36-28.

For the third round in a row, the Warriors started strong with Kieran Foran scoring 6 minutes into the first half.
The Panthers tried to strike back until David Fusitu'a snatched an intercept and ran the length of the field only to be tackled by a determined Waqa Blake 10 metres out, Waqa held onto to David too long and was sent to the bin.
The Warriors took quick advantage of one man overlap with two tries in quick succession to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Ryan Hoffman.
The Panthers attempted to claw their way back into the match with a try to Isaah Yeo at the 25-minute mark.
Kieran Foran put a stop to that comeback attempt as he slotted a 40/20 on the next drive which leads to another try to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad after a perfectly weighted grubber from Foran.
David Fusitu'a mirrored his play from earlier in the half and grabbed another intercept but this time managed to evade Waqa Blake to cross the line at the 40-minute mark to take the Warriors to a 28-6 lead at the break.
In the second half both the teams swapped ends and also swapped their form as the Warriors had nothing left to offer as the Panthers started to mount a comeback.
Isaah Yeo crossed 7 minutes into the second half, and the tries just kept coming with tries to Dallin Watene Zelezniak, Waqa Blake and Matt Moylan in the space of 10 minutes to give the Panthers a 30-28 lead going into the final 20 minutes.
The Warriors showed no signs of life in the final stages in the game, and when Tyrone Peachey crossed at the 76-minute mark, the game was all over with the Panthers pulling off a tremendous comeback 36-28.

Copyright Photo: Jason McCauley /
My Warrior of the game goes to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
In only his second outing in first grade Charnze is showing great potential, with Manu Vatuvei getting injured yet again and Ken Maumalo not performing consistently at first-grade level, Charnze has an excellent opportunity to cement a spot on the wing.
Although he is smaller than the wingers we have grown accustomed to on the Warriors edges, he has speed, is safe under the high ball and is defensively sound.
The sky is the limit with Charnze, and I expect him to go from strength to strength in the upcoming weeks.

Copyright Photo: Jason McCauley /
My Warrior who needs to improve is Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Roger came out after this match and said it was the worse 40 minutes of his career and I couldn't agree more, he had a right shocker in this game.
In a match where all the Warriors performed poorly in the last 40 minutes you could really pick any of them, but given how well Roger has played this season to date I had to pick him.
His performance was out of character, missing tackles and making unforced errors.
I am confident that Roger will bounce back from this and make this performance nothing but a bad memory.

Well, where do you start after a performance like that?
After the past two rounds, I thought the Warriors had turned a corner this season and had begun to show a defensive edge to their game.
I have no idea what happened in this match, in the first half it looked like the Warrior's attack was finally starting to click, and as a result, the points started to pile up.
Their defensive pressure lead to two intercepts by David Fusitu'a, and the Warriors looked well on their way to a high scoring win.
And then there was that second half, up by 22 points the Warriors had this game well and truly in control and were well on their way to obtaining victory.
The Warriors appeared to think the game was over and were punished; as a result, Simon Mannering's absence was noticeable as the Panthers were able to break the line in the middle with relative ease.
The Warriors never seemed to be in this match once that second half start, they were mere spectators in an embarrassing display.
A collapse of this nature can not be tolerated in a competition as close as the NRL.
This performance is not the end of the Warriors season by any means, but it has got to have set off some alarms at Warriors HQ.
Stephen Kearney and Co need address the lacklustre attitude that was so apparent in the last 40 minutes and talk to all the senior players that did not step up when the game started to get away from them.
If the Warriors cannot fix this attitude and learn to play for 80 minutes, then it is going to be a long season for this team and fans alike.

This round the Warriors travel down to Hamilton to face the St George Illawarra Dragons, after their last performance, facing the Dragons is not an ideal situation given the Warriors poor record against the Dragons.
If the Warriors can go back to how they were performing against the Storm and Roosters, then they give themselves a decent chance of getting a win here.
Having Ben Matulino back with the side should help combat the Dragons massive forward pack, in particular, Paul Vaughan who has been a standout for the Dragons in 2017.
The Warriors need to get the win here, not only to keep them in the hunt but also to calm the ever vocal fan base that is frustrated with how this team has been inconsistently performing, so I'm picking the Warriors to get the win here by two.

So that Round 10, a loss that many including myself would like to forget, and as per usual I will leave you with some questions.

How would you change the attitude in the Warriors camp?
Is there still a chance the Warriors will play finals football in 2017?
Do the Warriors have a young player they can mould to be the next Simon Mannering?
What chance do you give the Warriors in getting the win in Hamilton this week?