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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

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

Copyright Photo: Renee McKay /
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 /
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.

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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?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

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

Copyright Photo: Paul Seiser /
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 /
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 /
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?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

NZ Warriors Round 23 Review: Warriors spineless in sixth straight defeat

Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /
After the embarrassment of Round 22, the Warriors headed back to Mount Smart Stadium for the second to last time in 2017 to face the Canberra Raiders.
In front of their smallest crowd of the year, the embarrassing Warriors run continued with their sixth loss in a row.

The Warriors were close to being the first to score with Solomone Kata unable to ground a grubber over the line.
He stayed down clutching his shoulder as the Raiders went the length of the field with Nick Cotric making easy work of the Warriors right edge defence to score.
Ten minutes later Cotric was at it again this time putting Jarrod Croker over the line.
The Warriors were next to score after throwing the ball around with David Fusitu’a finishing the play in the corner.
Only 6 points down the Warriors looked to be clawing their way back into the match until Issac Luke dropped the ball from dummy half, killing all momentum.
The Raiders yet again took advantage and scored for the third time with Blake Austin evading several tacklers to go into the break 18-6.
Both sides battled trade blows for the first 20minutes of the second half with neither side getting the upper hand until Roger Tuivasa-Sheck barged over to bring the Warriors back within reach.
Ken Maumalo dropped the ball on the next set to give the Raiders back the ball in good position, and Joseph Leilua proved hard to stop as he got the Raiders fourth try.
That was the straw that broke the camels back as the Raiders scored two more tries in the final stages of the game through Jordon Rapana and Nick Cotric.
The Warriors finished the match with a try in the last minute to Isaiah Papalii, but it was too little too late as the Raiders were the victors 36-16.

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I have no Warrior of the match this round, some of the younger players did show that they were trying, but the team as a whole was dreadful, and there wasn't enough from any individual to highlight but that Nick Cotric is a talent isn't he.

Copyright Photo: Renee McKay /
My Warrior who needs to improve is going to the entire team.
Three games remain in the abomination of a season, and if the Knights and Tigers continue their current form, there is still a chance that the Warriors could wind up with their first ever wooden spoon.
I would like to say that after 6 losses in a row the Warriors will finally wake up but after listening to the Coach and players alike, they still have their heads in the sand and are well on their way to 7 losses in a row.

I don't know what is funnier, this excuse of a performance from the Warriors or the fact that the Warriors Officials faked the crowd numbers.
There definitely was not 10,000 fans in that Stadium on Sunday Afternoon I will be interested to see how many bother to show up for the last home game of the year in Round 25.

But back to the actual performance or lack thereof.
The Warriors had three repeat seats in a row camped on the Raiders try line and could not convert that territory and possession into points.
They just had no idea, it looked like there was no game plan and they continued to shoot themselves in the foot with unforced errors.
Every single time the Warriors appeared to get themselves back into the match they got themselves back out of it.
All but one of the Raiders tries came after a Warriors error, and with the way they have been performing as of late, they just cannot give the other teams easy opportunities.

The Edges were found out defensively yet again, and I'm sure that Rapana and Leilua were licking their lips all week knowing they had Kata and Maumalo opposite them.
This was the Warriors largest losing score margin in 2017, and I fear that there is more to come before the season is out.

This week the Warriors head back to Australia to face the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday night
With the way the Warriors have been performing, I didn't see a victory coming their way.
Foran comes back into the side with Mason Lino being dropped, if it were me, I would have stuck with Mason and Ata in the halves and leave Foran in Sydney.
With Ben Matulino out with suspension, the forward pack has taken another hit and just cannot see them having enough to overcome the Rabbitohs at home, so I am picking a South Sydney win by 12.

Talks around the grounds of Eric Watson selling the club to Paul Davys seems to be gaining traction.
If the sale is confirmed it may be just what the Warriors need, a clean slate with a new set of eyes.
It creates so many questions, would he keep the coach? The players?
What changes could possibly happen with a new owner?
Also if the buyout is rejected what changes will Eric Watson make in the organisation as it is clear that this club is failing.

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

What is your score prediction for the Rabbitohs match?
What do you think of Eric Watson potentially selling the Warriors?
Would you have dropped Mason Lino?
Do you think the Warriors will get another win this season?

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

NZ Warriors Round 22 Review: Embarrassment at McDonald Jones Stadium sums up Warriors 2017

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After an abysmal Round 21 against the Cronulla Sharks, the Warriors made the journey to Newcastle to face a Knights team buoyed by their upset Round 21 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Both teams are only playing for pride at this stage of the competition, and the Knights proved they are not the easy beats they were in 2016 with a resounding 26-10 victory over and pathetic Warriors side.

The Warriors lacked discipline for the second week in a row giving away silly penalties, and they Knights were quick to strike, scoring two tries in the first 10 minutes.
After the first quarter wobbles the Warriors looked to be getting themselves into the match with a try to David Fusitu’a, after another lapse in discipline the Knights added 2 more points from an easy penalty attempt to go into the half time break leading 16-4.

The Warriors only started to show a sign of fight when Issac Luke was pulled and replaced with a hungry Nathaniel Roache, but that didn't stop the Knights running in their third try at the hour mark.
Roache got the Warriors second try of the night a few moments later to give the Warriors a sniff of a comeback.
But the Knights crushed all hopes of that with their fourth try of the evening via man of the match Brock Lamb with 8 minutes remaining to finally end the Warriors worse game of 2017 with a 26-10 defeat.

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My Warrior of the game goes to the Warriors ever suffering fans.
Years of let-downs were finally meant to be over in 2017, the Club talked a big game leading into this season with a new coach, Kieran Foran being the final piece of the puzzle and a “process” that would change the clubs fortune.
But yet again Warriors fans have been left to lament what could have been.
It’s a hard life as a Warriors fan, and one that I believe is never actually acknowledged by the Club, so I am acknowledging you here, I hope 2018 bears fruit for this club, but as of right now it is not looking great.

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My Warrior who needs to improve is Issac Luke.
In a team that appeared to not want to be there and in turn offered very little in a fight, Issac by far was the crown jewel of disappointment.
With Shaun Johnson, Ryan Hoffman, Bodene Thompson and James Gavet all out injured, the Warriors really need a player like Issac to set up as a leader.
He has instead been on a decline, in the team named to face the Raiders in Round 23 Issac has at least been dropped which is rightly deserved.

What an embarrassment this game was.
The Knights haven't had back to back wins since 2015 and apart from a dropped ball at kick off the Knights never looked like losing this match.
The Warriors never got off the plane for this game, there was maybe 4 players out of the 17 that appeared to be putting in some effort.
Kieran Foran has gone into hiding since Shaun Johnson got injured, leaving Mason Lino to take up the crucial playmaker role.
Kieran has already left the Warriors mentally and really needs to look himself in the Mirror and put some effort in for the final four matches of his Warriors career, but then again does he really care what happens here?

The Warriors lack heart, desire and passion and show no signs of life anymore.
2017 has been a long season, and with 4 games left against the Raiders, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles and the Wests Tigers, I believe it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
The Tigers may be the only win the Warriors can get in the next month and with the way they are playing right now I don't think the will even defeat them.

This week the Warriors are back at Mount Smart to face the Canberra Raiders.
Stephen Kearney talked a tough game after the Knights defeat and vowed to wield the axe on the side but he barely even sharpened the axe with the only changes in his team being Ryan Hoffman making his return from injury and Issac Luke being related to the bench.
With fans baying for blood and Kearney's head, Stephen really needed to make a stand, the fans and more importantly the players now know that Kearney is all talk.

Talks of the Warriors signing Adam Blair for next season have also divided the fans, I currently haven't made up my mind yet.
On the one hand, if the Adam Blair that played for the Storm and now plays for the Broncos comes here it would be a welcomed signing, on the other hand, if it is the Adam Blair that played for the Tigers comes here then he can stay away.
Reports say that Adam Blair doesn't want to leave the Broncos so that would lead me to suspect that they would be signing the Tigers Blair so I would most likely be avoiding that signing and looking at other options.
In an Ideal world, the Warriors would sign James Graham.
He is the player I would be throwing my money at, he still has a year left on his Bulldogs contract, but with rumours of the Bulldogs having to shed players to make cap room the Warriors may be able to swoop in and get him early.
The biggest issue the Warriors will have right now is trying to convince players of a good calibre to come here after six seasons of failure.

But onto Round 23’s match.
The Raiders have a strong side with a large forward pack and threats throughout the back line, and I predict them being too strong for the Warriors and I'm picking the Raiders to win by 10.

So that was a disastrous Round 22, and as per usual, I will leave you with some questions.

What is your score prediction for the Raiders match?
What do you think of the Adam Blair recruitment rumour?
What changes would you have made for the Raiders match?

Do you think the Warriors will get another win this season?

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

NZ Warriors Round 21 Review: Sharks sink woeful Warriors

Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /
After returning from their defeat in North Queensland, the Warriors returned to Mount Smart Stadium to face the Cronulla Sharks.
With the chances of making the top eight extremely thin, the Warriors had nothing to lose and had the opportunity to perform for the 9,771 fans the braved the cold weather to watch them.
Unfortunately for those fans, the Warriors had a performance to forget losing 26-12.

The Warriors gave away back to back penalties, and the Sharks took advantage scoring a try within the first 4 minutes.
The Sharks kept the pressure on the Warriors for the remainder of the half with the only relief for the Warriors being an intercept try to Solomone Kata at the 30-minute mark.
However, the Sharks fired back almost immediately with a try of their own to go into the break 12-6
The Warriors started the second half in the same manner that they began the first with a string of penalties but their defence, as well as some timely handling errors from the Sharks, defused any scoring attempts from reigning premiers.
Mason Lino in his 2nd match of the year forced several repeats sets and finally managed to put Bodene Thompson through a hole to score a much need try.
This was the last time the Warriors looked to be in this match as the Sharks show their class and score two more tries in the final 20 minutes to hand the Warriors their fourth loss in a row, winning the match 26-12.

Copyright Photo: Renee McKay /
My Warrior of the game goes to Jacob Lillyman.
With the loss of James Gavet, the Warriors props needed to step up and Jacob did in this match, his stats were almost the same as Simon Mannering's this week with the only difference being Jacob played 55 minutes instead of Simons 80.
160 metres from 18 runs with 31 tackles and no missed tackles is not a bad day out for Jacob who is in the twilight of his career and most likely will be leaving the Warriors at the end of the season.
With the exit of Matulino and no news of any props being signed from across the ditch, I'm hoping that the Warriors can convince Jacob to stick around for at least one more season to give the Warriors some much-needed experience in their front row.

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My Warrior who needs to improve is Ligi Sao.
I don't see what Ligi is offering this team right now, James Bell made his debut in this match and played for 24 minutes, Ligi, however, played for 11 minutes.
If Ligi could offer some impact for those 11 minutes, this would be a different argument, but yet again I barely noticed that he was playing.
The Warriors are not playing to an NRL calibre as a whole, but Ligi on his own would be struggling to make a super league team right now.
Unfortunately, Kearney has selected him again for Round 22’s match, but I doubt anyone will notice.

The Warriors never fired a shot in this game, unforced errors and penalties plagued the side, and they were punished severely for it.
Playing a side of the Sharks quality you really need to bring your A game and the Warriors are a b team at best right now.
The forwards except for Jacob Lillyman, Simon Mannering and Ben Matulino didn't make many metres and didn't set a platform for the backline.
The backs in turn never threatened to break the line, and it felt like this team has given up and are just counting down to the offseason.
There weren't many positives from this match, but Mason Lino had another strong performance in a mediocre team and is making a case for himself to be Shaun Johnson’s halves partner in 2018.
James Bell had a good debut and didn't look out of place in first grade, with the season over I would be looking at blooding more of this young talent in preparation for 2018, but that appears to be part of Kearney's process.

2017 has been a train wreck but thankfully the Warriors have the Knights and Tigers left to face this year as they should be able to get wins in those matches but I don't know if I see them winning any other matches outside of those two.

This week the Warriors get to the first of those matches travelling to Newcastle.
With Bodene’s injury, he has been replaced by Isaiah Papali’i in what has been the only change to the side that lost in Round 21.
Typically I would have automatically chalked up a win for the Warriors here but the Knights looked impressive in their win over the Dragons in Round 21, and they will be looking at kicking the Warriors while they are down.
However, I still think the Warriors will have enough left in their tank to get the victory in Newcastle, and I'm picking the Warriors to win by 10.

So that was a horrible Round 21, and as per usual, I will leave you with some questions.

What is your score prediction for the Knights match?
Would you try to resign Jacob Lillyman?
What were your thoughts on James Bell’s debut?
How many wins do you think the Warriors can get in the last 5 rounds?