Thought it might be helpful to fill the time between now and the kick off of the Warriors season on March 19 at Mt Smart v Eels to take a look at last season one more time to see whether there are any pointers to the future in the results.
As posted on this blog at the close of the season last year Cleary finished up with a 2006 season record which he can be justifiably proud of 12 wins and 12 losses from 24 games. This record should have seen the Warriors make the playoffs (in 8th spot) for only the fourth season in their twelve year history however the 4 point deduction for the salary cap breach killed off any chance of the playoffs. Looked at in comparison to previous Warriors seasons 2006 does rank very well - fourth overall - together with 1995, 2002 and 2003 the only seasons the Warriors have managed to win 50% or more of their games.
The end of last season saw something of a Warriors spurt as they put on some impressive performances whilst chasing a mathematical shot at the playoffs. Lets take a quick look at those last six games after the Round 20 bye with the most recent first:
Round 26 - Loss - Broncoes 36 v Warriors 12
Round 25 - Win - Warriors 42 v Roosters 16
Round 24 - Win - Storm 20 v Warriors 24
Round 23- Win - Warriors 26 v Cowboys 0
Round 22 - Win - Warriors 12 v Sharks 10
Round 21 - Loss - Penrith 26 v Warriors 6
So the Warriors won 4 out of 6 losing only to the eventual NRL champion Broncoes and the Panthers away. The points differential for these six games alone was +14. They scored an average of 20.3 points whilst giving up an average of 17.7 points.
So this form looks promising - a consistent 2 in 3 winning percentage would see the boys cruise into the playoffs however the defence still has problems - while the points differential is positive this is really only due to the blowouts in rounds 25 and 23 - otherwise the Warriors are still leaking far too many points. This needs to be addressed. In addition it should be noted of the teams beaten in the last six games only the Storm actually made it to the playoffs (although in first place!).
So I think overall their are grounds for hope but not unrestrained enthusiam. Brent Webb is a big loss and it remains to be seen how the team will adjust to life without him cleaning up at the back.