Warriors - The Run Home

  1. How they stand: Flying high until last Sunday when the Roosters shut them out 24-0, the Warriors sit in seventh place with a favourable run home. After an inconsistent start to the year they have recovered to win six of their last nine, and heading into Round 20 they rank equal third for the most tries scored in the Telstra Premiership. Statistically they also make more line breaks than any other team, but average a competition-high 11 errors per game and complete the third-fewest sets.

    Only three of their remaining games are against sides currently in the top eight, with three against teams now in the bottom four. The Kiwi side also have the bonus of playing four of those games at home.

    With 28 points traditionally being the minimum number required to make the eight the Warriors may only need three victories to seal their spot, but will likely rue a couple of close losses when it comes to cracking the top four, which is starting to look unlikely.

    Remaining fixtures:
    Round 20: v Sea Eagles at Mt Smart Stadium, 5.00pm, Sunday, July 25.
    Round 21: v Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium, 5.00pm, Saturday, August 1.
    Round 22: v Dragons at Westpac Stadium, 5.00pm, Saturday, August 8.
    Round 23: v Panthers at Pepper Stadium, 7.30pm, Saturday, August 15.
    Round 24: v Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium, 7.30pm, Saturday, August 22.
    Round 25: v Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium, 4.00pm, Sunday, August 30.
    Round 26: v Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium, 8.30pm, Sunday, September 6.

    Key clash: The Warriors were in top eight contention heading into the final game of the season in 2014 and 2013, before suffering defeats and missing out on both occasions. With that in mind the Round 26 clash with the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium might be a crucial one. It could decide where they finish in the eight, or potentially if they make the finals at all. The Warriors have won just two final-round fixtures in the past six seasons.

    Key player: Shaun Johnson is a big part of why the Warriors are in the top eight heading into Round 20, and how they finish 2015 will be depend greatly on his performance. The 2014 Golden Boot almost single-handedly won their Round 9 clash with the Sharks, a game which somewhat transformed the club's fortunes at the time, and he's been a prominent piece of the side's attacking arsenal ever since.

    Averaging 80 run metres per game, Johnson also has 11 try assists and 12 line breaks, at times looking unstoppable with ball in hand. But the Warriors need him to do better when the going gets tough, as a couple of crunch games approach which are unlikely to present him with the luxury of easy go-forward and time on the ball.

    Injury report: Their current injury situation isn't too bad, with veterans Manu Vatuvei and Ryan Hoffman expected back over the next couple of weeks. But their hefty toll earlier in the year may be what comes back to bite them, with season-ending injuries to Ben Henry, Ngani Laumape and Thomas Leuluai leaving them short on depth. Having those key men out has also meant coach Andrew McFadden was forced to rely on a host of youngsters playing big minutes, which they may struggle with towards the back end of the year.

    NRL.com predicted finish: 6th.

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