Sunday, May 17, 2009

Warriors Slump to Big Loss

The New Zealand Warriors, in their worst performance of the season, have gone down to the North Queensland Cowboys, 34-12, at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland today.

The Warriors put in a first half half effort that was error ridden and at times they looked to be comatose. As opposed to the Cowboys who, playing into a strong wind, played the percentages well, with Captain Johnathon Thurston controlling the pace of the game well with a judicious kicking game.

Kicking deep into Warriors territory, usually to the Warriors right side defence to avoid Manu Vatuvei getting too much ball, the Cowboys were able to force errors from the Warriors in their own half, negating the Warriors perceived attacking threat.

Not that they had much too worry about there.

Time and again the Warriors handed over ball to the opposition due to poor ball handling.

When they did hold onto the ball, they failed to kick early in the tackle count, thus abusing the advantage of a strong wind behind their backs.

And, on the few occasions they did get ball near the Cowboys goal line, they looked devoid of ideas on attack.

North Queensland scored two tries in the first half, one to Travis Burns and the other to Thurston, who stepped off his left foot to go over in the 30th minute untouched, giving his team a ten points to two half-time lead.

A comfortable position, having had the better of field position and possession, despite running into the wind.

The Warriors, having looked disorganised during the first half, did nothing initially in the second half to change that perception.

Until the 46th minute that is. Having woken from their slumber, ten metres out from the Cowboys goal line, Lance Hohaia, gathered the ball from the back of the scrum, ran five metres across field and offloaded to Nathan Fien running back on the angle. Fien ran though a gap unopposed to score next to the uprights.

With the conversion from Denam Kemp, the Warriors were back in the match, being down by only two points, 10-8.

Not for long though. North Queensland, having been awarded a penalty for the Warriors being off-side, found themselves in enemy territory. One of Thurstons favourite places to be, it turns out. He put a grubber kick through towards the Warriors posts, with Willie Tonga collecting the ball and diving over for a 51st minute converted try.

The Warriors started to get more possession over the next ten minutes, off of a string of penalties against the Cowboys. This led to the sinbinning of James Tamou in the 57th minute.

Warriors fans could be excused for thinking their team was coming home the strongest, after the Warriors spread the ball wide in the 60th minute to Joel Moon, who off-loaded in the tackle of two Cowboys players to Denam Kemp, who dived over in the corner for his first try of the season.

This brought the score back to 16-12, but this was the end of the Warriors renaissance, which was very much of a ephemeral nature.

North Queensland ran in a further three tries, all converted by Thurston, in the last eight minutes of the match.

With the exception of a fifteen minute period during the second half, the Warriors never looked like winning.

Which leaves the Ivan Cleary coached team needing to find form sooner rather than later, if they are to avoid finding themselves losing contact with the top eight.

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