NZ Warriors Round 15 Review: Grit shines through in Townsville win

  1. After a successful journey down to Christchurch, the Warriors had one more stop on their road trip as they made their way to Townsville to face the struggling Cowboys.

    History hasn't been kind to the Warriors in Townsville with only one win in the past 12 visits but as the Warriors have shown throughout 2018 poor records don't matter as they came away with a 23-16 victory.

    The Warriors lost the NRL's leading try scorer David Fusitua after a rolled ankle at the captains run but did welcome back captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in an impressive solo showing.



    Round 15 was the cliche game of two halves with the Warriors dominating the majority of the first half and the Cowboys turning the momentum in their favour in the second.

    It wasn't pretty by any means, but I loved this game, I had concerns with aspects of the performance but for the Warriors to hold onto their lead against a desperate Cowboys side playing for their season showed fight that has long been absent from this Warriors squad pre 2018, this leads me to my positives for the match.



    Once again the Warriors fitness shined through in this performance, for essentially the last 30 minutes of the match the Warriors were on the back foot defending repeated line dropouts and attacks on their line.

    The Warriors still missed a lot of tackles, but they made the ones that counted which is a trend they will need to continue as they track towards their first postseason since 2011.



    The Warriors contained the JT'S for the majority of the match, and if you can keep Johnathan Thurston and Jason Taumalolo relatively quiet, you have won half the battle.

    Taumalolo was still damaging with his runs, but the Warriors were able to restrict his second phase play and hold him from any big runs within their red zone.

    They also kept the pressure on Thurston for the entire match, and it showed with Thurston looking lost at several times throughout the game.

    The injury to Michael Morgan midway through the first half didn't help him, but it was good to see the Warriors heap pressure onto the star half without getting anyone sent to the bin which was a key concern of mine before the game.



    The Warriors showed smart gameplay in the dying stages of the match, with the Cowboys really starting to gain momentum the Warriors took one of the few opportunities they had to slot a field goal to stretch there lead out to seven with a few minutes to go.

    This took all the air out of the Cowboys sail and sealed yet another road win.

    If the Warriors continue to notch away victories like this, they have a great chance of securing a home finals match.



    The second half was a bit of a mess to watch at times however which leads me to my negatives.



    The handling errors were coach killers this round with the worse two that spring to my mind being Peta Hiku's drop from a Beale flick pass and Solomona Kata's bobble as he was crossing over the try line.

    Kata's was probably the worse error as he bombed a sure try and injured himself in the process which may see him miss a few rounds.



    The penalties were still too high for my liking, but I think part of that was due to the poor referring by Henry Penenara, who I believe had a shocker making several poor calls for both sides.

    The Warriors need to play according to whoever is in control of the whistle, if they can do this they will be in good stead to continue their winning ways.



    With the playoffs nearing the Warriors just need to iron out the kinks in their basics, it's not a hard formula; if you have a low error rate and penalty count, this decreases the possession your opponents get and this, in turn, increases the chances you have to score points.

    The 2018 Warriors have shown that they can tussle with the tops sides when their mind is in the game, they just need to ensure they do this consistently as they hit the backend of the season.



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    My Warrior of the game goes to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

    After missing last weeks game Roger really didn't miss a beat setting up Ken Maumalo and Solomona Kata's tries and scoring perhaps his best try in years where he ran for 70metres and turned Michael Morgan inside out with his patented step.

    Roger is having a stellar season and has really grown into his captaincy, he shows so much fire and intensity of both attack and defence that really lift the performances of the players around him.

    If he can continue to perform at this level this season, I believe he will be in talks for the Dally M at the end of the season.



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    My Warrior who needs to improve goes to Issac Luke.

    Please put down the pitchforks and let me explain.

    Issac has been one of the better performers for the Warriors in 2018 and is still, in my opinion, the glue that holds this side together.

    However in this match, I think his biggest issue was that he was trying too hard, he was trying to do everything that he has been doing all year, but this time it just wasn't coming off, and he made a lot of errors.

    This was a blip on the radar, and I don't see it happening again, I think he may have just been pushing a bit too hard as a one last ditch effort to cement his spot in the upcoming Kiwi's test (congratulations to Issac, Ken and Peta for their Kiwi's call-ups).

    In Round 17 when Issac returns from being rested after the test I fully expect Issac to be back at his best, destroying teams with his sniping dummy half runs.



    With the NRL having a week off for the international tests and the second State of Origin the Warriors that are not involved the tests have some more time to rest and recuperate before returning to Mount Smart to face the Cronulla Sharks in Round 16.

    Both sides have had similar seasons, and the matchup is going to be a close one.

    The Warriors are only losing three players from this match due to the Kiwi's test in Denver and Kata will most likely not be available due to his injury, but hopefully, all the players that will be playing for Samoa and Tonga will come through those matches injury free and be available.



    If the Warriors can treat Andrew Fifita the same way they did with Jason Taumalolo they have a great chance of getting the win here however without Issac at dummy half, it is going to be tough.

    I'm predicting another Warriors win here this time by 8 points.



    So that was my take on a tough Round 15 win, and as usual, I will leave you with some questions.



    Who was your player of the Round?

    Who as your player to improve?

    How do you see the Kiwi's going in Denver?

    What is your score prediction for Round 16 against the Sharks?

    About Author

    Brads Ramblings
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