Sunday, March 28, 2010

Most entertaining Warriors game ever?

What can I say. I feel as if my brain has exploded. A 48-16 win for the Warriors away to the Broncoes at Suncorp stadium in front of 30,000 plus fans - most of whom seemed to be Warriors supporters. Most points ever conceded by Brisbane at Suncorp.

A hat trick of tries for Maloney who only narrowly missed out on a multi-game suspension in front of the judiciary mid-week. He also scored 28 total points matching Ivan Cleary's single game point scoring record for the Warriors. Maloney may never reach quite these heights again but he is a real find and more than just great cover whilst Seymour is injured.

After early tries to each of Vatuvei and Mannering both were lost to what look to be serious hamstring injuries after about 20 minutes. This is a major loss but the scale of the acheivement in the win overshadows these apparently serious injuries. The surviving Warriors players put in one of the all time great performances for the club and the jersey and the fans. Maloney was an obvious stand out but his points should not cause fans to ignore the strong performances right throughout the side with Tate, Hiho, McKinnon, Ropati and Locke in particular all contributing big time. The forwards were also solid for the whole game - Packer is a big unit.

What more is there to say - the physios will be working big time this week to try and field a side next week with players like Locke, WadeMac and Heremia also apparently injured during the game but playing on. No doubt there will be a drop off after such a spectacular result but as a fan you cannot ask for much more than this.

Amazing entertainment and spectacular play by the Warriors.

I am exhausted after watching that game - amazing to think the Broncoes led 16-14 shortly after halftime - that means the Warriors scored 34 unanswered points in the second half.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Halves crisis averted as Maloney found not guilty

Wow great news with Maloney being found not guilty by the judiciary of a dangerous throw vs Sharks.

This means Cleary is left with his second option at halfback available - as does not have to look further down the depth chart or restructure the team entirely. However it will be interesting to see how Hiho is used.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Warriors win big over Sharks at Mt Smart

Well first off - what a great game last night. The Warriors storming out of the blocks to go 16-0 up and despite wavering in the run in to halftime coming back strong to win the game 30-16.

Big bummer of the year is the thumb injury to Seymour that ruled him out of last nights match and may well see him out for 6-8 weeks. This is the nightmare come to fruition for the team because most opponents will be a lot harder to beat that the miserable Sharkies. As we saw last night with a number of conversions missed in his absence, Seymour is far and away the number one kicking option in addition to being critical at halfback. Without points from conversions we will have to score 1.5 times as many tries to end up in the same place. The Warriors concealed the Seymour injury in the leadup to last nights game in the hope it would throw off the Sharks gameplan. Thats all good but I was pretty disappointed to only find out as the teams ran onto the park that Seymour was not starting. There is a hint in this article from the SMH that maybe the thumb injury did not happen during last weeks game vs the Titans but in more controversial off-field circumstances - does anyone have anything on this?

I did however have a really good time attending the match last night. We decided to travel to and from the game by public transport which was a roll of the dice but it worked out ok. We started off with a bus from New Lynn bus depot. Thank goodness that place is about to be demolished, its even more desolate that I remember. The bus wound its way through Owairaka and 3 Kings before rocking up right outside the entrance to Gate C exactly on time. How convenient.

I have been away so long I have never sat in the new eastern stand and it was great, good facilities and seating. It was easy and quick to get beers and the view from the stand was excellent.

The match itself was great fun. Outside of a knockon from the initial kickoff - for the first 20 minutes or so the Warriors were utterly dominant and at 16-0 I thought maybe this was going to be a 50 point blowout win. The Warriors had a number of line breaks including a few great runs by Tate, Hiho, Locke and Lewis Brown who really impressed me all round. A couple of the line breaks happened right in front of our seats and seeing these guys chew up the metres with the entire Sharks pack chasing them was really fun to watch.

But then the dreaded pre-halftime drop off occurred with several soft tries being conceded. This collapse was so total that the Sharkies were able to climb all the way back to 16-14 at halftime and all the way to 16-16 with an early penalty in the second half.

A word has to be said about the quality of the refereeing. It was terrible. Please NRL can the Warriors get a game with a decent ref please? At one point a number of dodgy decisions stacked up (if there are two men in the tackle its a strip bro) to make it look at times like the officiating team had money on the Sharks.

So going into the second half the Warriors still had work to do but they managed to stabilise and dominate the second half through repeat sets, a low error rate and solid defending. The continuing bad refereeing decisions didn't help but the Warriors were assisted by the fact that the Sharks are ghastly. We can feel pretty happy that this is not the club we have to support. They are miserably pathetic. Trent Barrett had nothing.

Vatuvei was his usual powerhouse self - seemingly unstoppable from 10 out. However he needs to ensure he is not the channel through which soft tries are scored in his corner. This has happened two weeks in a row now. The Beast is a legend but in a similar vein to Lomu he needs to defend strong too. But don't get me wrong - he is a megastar right now and he does his work when needed - when he takes the ball up the middle he takes it with power.

There was some minor tension in the second half but the result was hardly in doubt and finally Rapira sealed the game with a barging try late on and it was all over.

So overall a good win that was well needed. The loss of Seymour is a real worry but we just have to move on and assess the alternatives in his absence. Maybe Hiho in the halves is an option? Not all teams we play will be as poor as the Sharks. Teams like the Dragons, Storm and Eels will not give up 16 point starts and will blow us off the park if we lapse like we have done in the late first half of the first two games.

It was really fun to be at Mt Smart - checking out the atmosphere and the various members of the Warriors entourage. Notable gear bag and water boys spotted during the game included Ruben Wiki, Ian Henderson and Jerry Seuseu. Steve Price was also a prominent presence on the sideline coming out at the end of the game to congratulate the team on a job well done. The word is that the 36 year old Price is in full training and may be in the starting line up for next weeks game away to the Broncoes. This is good news.

Feel free to place your comments on the game or anything I've said by clicking on the comments button below.

Lets hope the winning continues for the Warriors next week in a tough away game in Brisbane.

Only hours to go till season 2010 kicks off at Mt Smart

Not long now till the Warriors home game vs Sharks. I will be heading off to Mt Smart shortly.

Lots of articles in the various press today focussing on Mannering's first game of the season and first game as captain. We can expect alot of attention on him from the Sharks. Frankly he is not the key player for the Warriors in this game - his contribution is of course important as his leadership as captain but we need crisp energetic performances in the back line to win.

Seymour vs his old club should add a bit of spice and I would expect a) that the Sharks will try and smash him and b) that he will be amped to beat his old club. So an interesting sub-plot there. Seymour played well last week and kicked very well at goal - lets hope this continues.

To win this game the Warriors need to shut down Trent Barrett and maintain defensive concentration for the whole 80 minutes and in particular the last 10 of each half.

The TAB has the Warriors as shortening favourites in the live betting market ($1.42 as of right now) so lets hope thats right.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mannering back for first home game of 2010 vs Sharks

Well the first home game of the year looms against the Sharks at Mt Smart. This one has to be a must win game with the Sharks one of the few teams in the comp the pundits rank below the Warriors. Seymour up against his old club should be interesting - he will know many of the players well. In addition the Sharks now boast star power in the form of Trent Barrett who used to be awesome but is getting on a bit.

Anyway it shapes up as a very winnable game at home in front of the Mt Smart massive. TAB has the Warriors as firm favourites which is always a bit of a worry.

I have my tix for the 7.30pm kick off Saturday night (Eastern Stand Lower section 31) and I hope to see you all there. After the game I will post a match report and hopefully some candid photos.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Disappointing loss to Titans after strong start

Great to see the NRL finally kick off this weekend and to see the Warriors back on the field in DB Bitter style 1995 retro blue and green uniforms.

As for the game it was at times tough to watch, with tons of dropped ball by both teams, the Warriors bombing tries and ghastly and bizarre refereeing decisions.

The Warriors started strongly and looked fast, organised and well drilled in the early exchanges with some nice tight angled passing behind the ruck. The Titans on the other hand looked shaky and sloppy in the first 20 mins or so. A great lead up of slick passing and then a bit of luck led to the Warriors first try. Seymour and Heremia both looked good. The Warriors scored two unanswered tries to lead 12-0 - both came from Seymour kicks to the wing with one each caught by Vatuvei and Locke.

After the first 20mins the game started to deteriorate with the Titans regaining possession from the restart after the Warriors second try by way of a short Preston Campbell kick off (which the Warriors better learn to deal with) and turning it straight into points through a soft soft try that should never have been scored. That defensive lapse opened the chink in the Warriors that ultimately cost them the game.

The Warriors did manage one more try before half time with good play delivering 4 repeat sets in the red zone ultimately ending with Vatuvei finding himself all alone on the left wing with a clear run to the line. Seymour kicked the conversion -he made 3/3 on shots at goal. This guy's form is now effectively the arbiter of our season. At this point if the Warriors had held out to halftime without conceding they might have survived the game. Unfortunately they were far too soft and sloppy for that. The Titans managed a further soft try before halftime taking the score to 18-12 at the break.

In the second half the result looked inevitable. The Warriors were sluggish and error prone. The Titans weren't that much better but they looked like they had more energy and the skill level and speed of Prince and Campbell in particular really started to show through. Other Titans stars like Matt Rogers and Greg Bird made little impact.

The Warriors had a few chances, but blew them all with poor finishing. Two further Titans tries and it was game over.

Hard to know what Cleary will make of this. The Titans played poorly and still won. That is a signature of playoff teams. The Warriors on the other hand controlled much of the game, had tons of possession and still lost. That is very worrying.

So on the plus side - there is hope in the halves and Vatuvei and Locke had some good moments. On the downside - we need to see a lot more from Brent Tate and we need some more experience in the forwards - aka Mannering and Price. Luck looked lost at times and when the Warriors reached the red zone they looked a but disorganised. High kicks to the corners are effective - but you need to be able to score tries through clever passing through the middle as well.

Most importantly to have a hope of improvement the Warriors need to maintain the energy and zest with which they started the game for the whole match and crucially they need to maintain defensive concentration for the 10 minutes prior to halftime.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TAB odds on Warriors v Titans

The TAB has the Warriors as long underdogs, with the head to head win paying $3.30 for a Warriors win, and Titans $1.30. A 12 and under win for the Warriors is paying $4.50.

SMH pre-season power rankings are also now out - pretty predictable at the top,
1. Storm
2. Eels
3. Dogs
4. Dragons
5. Tigers
6. Titans

and at the other end of the scale

13. Newcastle
14. Raiders
15. Warriors
16. Sharls

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Warriors team named for round 1 clash with Titans

Cleary has named his first team for NRL season 2010 this afternoon. The team is as follows, with the big news being the fact that Mannering's hamstring will keep him out at least until round 2.

Michael Luck will be stand in captain. Hohaia starts at Fullback with Wade Mac on the bench and Maloney will start at standoff partnering Seymour in the halves.

Price and Henderson remain out with injuries.



I also just noticed that Clinton Toopi is on the Titans roster these days. He only signed this week in a shock comeback to the NRL. Its a crazy world. I am kind of surprised the Warriors did not sign him? Apparently he is on the bubble to make the starting lineup at the Titans but he could well be on the interchange bench for round 1.

Sydney Morning Herald and TAB rates Warriors as no hopers for 2010

Well the SMH have issued their predictions for the season. Picking the Warriors to come at best 13th and at worst 16th (wooden spooners).

The SMH likes the Storm as the stongest favourite with the top teams being the Eels, Tigers, Dogs and Dragons. Interestingly going into round1 Brad Walters is picking the Titans to win the minor premiership, placing a lot of weight on the recruitment of Gred Bird as discussed below.

The bookies also have no faith in the Warriors, The TAB puts the Warriors chances of winning the NRL title at $25 ahead of only the Sydney Roosters, Canberra, Newcastle and Cronulla. The Storm and Eels are joint favourites at $6.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sonny Bill Williams to play for the Warriors?

Well todays monster rumour is that discussions are underway to bring SBW back to the NRL to play for the Warriors.

This is pretty far fetched but apparently it would require paying off the Bulldogs in an amount of $1m to compensate them for the contract they still hold on SBW until 2013. Apprently Eric Watson is willing to pony up to bring SBW back.

This strikes me as bull because my guess is that SBW is using a Warriors bid as leverage with the NZRU to get them to pay big money to bring him to NZ as an All Black. SBW to the Warriors would be awesome as he is a mega-talent. But it would be a big gamble and would require mortgaging the entire salary cap in his favour. If he was injured seriously or did not perform - it could screw the club for multiple seasons.

In other Warriors news, CEO Wayne Scurrah is apparently fuming over the Titans decision to play their home game vs the Warriors this Sunday in their white away strip rather than in their home strip. The decision will mean the Warriors have to wear their black strips in super hot 1pm gametime Queensland temperatures which could lead to Warriors players over-heating. This seems like a storm in a tea cup. For one thing the home side is entitled to wear whatever they like and second the Warriors should consider having a third strip - e.g. striped black and silver - for such eventualities.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

One week to go till Warriors kick off vs Titans

Only 7 days to go until Season 2010 - Cleary Year V - kicks off for the Warriors away vs the Titans at Skilled Park. The game will be 4pm Sunday NZ time.

You can check out all the pre-game matchup details here. The Titans are not a super-elite club by any means but it will not be an easy game for the Warriors, they have lost their last three against the Titans and both the last two meetings at Skilled Park.

It is important for the Warriors to start the season strong with a few early wins to banish the pain of last years disappointment. The Warriors first 8 games are - Titans (a), Sharks (h) (tickets are already on sale), Broncoes (a), Manly (h), and Bulldogs (a), Panthers (h), Storm (a), Raiders (h). I am thinking that four wins out of those eight would be a good performance and anything else a bonus. The Titans game looks to be one of the more winnable matchups. Check the full Warriors season draw here.

Big questions remain throughout the side. Who will be first choice goalkicker? Is Mannering up to the captaincy? Can Wade Mac and Tate return to past form? How many games will Price actually manage? How best to use Hohaia? Can Seymour translate his pre-season form into consistent regular season performances as the playmaker of the side and avoid back sliding on his alcohol issues?

The Warriors last met the Titans at Mt Smart in Round 22 last year. In that game the Titans won 30-10. The Titans lost their last three games last year vs Manly, Brisbane and Paramatta. But those last two games were in the playoffs after the Titans finished 3rd for the year. They probably had designs on a run to the grand final but were knocked out by the fantastic Eels cinderella run to the grand final from 8th spot. In terms of regular season games the Titans have won four of their last five.

The Warriors on the other hand are coming off four losses out of their last five regular season matches - and finishing 14th overall for 2009.

Big story for the Titans this off-season is the controversial signing of former NSW Origin player Greg Bird. In February 2010 Bird was acquitted of allegations of physically assaulting a woman in a Sydney nightclub. Bird was previously sacked by Cronulla Sharks over allegations that he "glassed" his girlfriend Katie Milligan.

In August 2008, Bird, was accused of recklessly wounding his American girlfriend, Katie Milligan, following an early-morning drunken argument. She sustained a fractured eye-socket and damage to her eye but when the pair arrived at hospital they pointed the finger of blame at Bird’s flat-mate, Brent Watson. They claimed he had thrown a glass at Milligan – despite the fact Watson was actually out playing golf at the time. The pair refused to give statements to police at the time of the attack or in court when it came to trial, and Bird was found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 16 months in jail. He immediately appealed and was eventually cleared of all charges after convincing the court that Milligan’s drug usage had caused her to behave erratically and that he was only defending himself. The presiding judge labelled their web of lies “extremely foolish”. The Sharks had already cut their losses and released him in January 2009

Bird's deal with the Titans contains strict behavioural clauses after his recent quashed assualt charges. Bird is expected to partner Scott Prince at the Titans scrum base with Matt Rogers moving into the centres.

So no doubt this shapes up as a tough match - but they are all going to be hard. Lets hope the Warriors can put the puzzle together and win their first game for the pride of the club. And lets also be thankful that the Warriors in general actually behave pretty well as individuals and we don't have loads of assaults and drunken outbursts to deal with (barring the odd Sione Faumauina).