Well done to you fellas at the New Zealand Warriors. You have got your campaign for a final’s spot back on track with a win against the Cronulla Sharks last Saturday night. With a performance that is worthy of high praise for the clinical way that you disposed of what was a potentially dangerous competitor. A loss against the Sharks and you could have been staring down the barrel of NRL finals oblivion for 2010. But, you did a fine job of arresting a two match losing streak.
What we all want to know, though, is this: which team is going to turn up for the rest of the season? Is it the professional outfit that put the Sharks away and went on a five match winning streak recently? Or the one that leaked sixty-six points against the Gold Coast and South Sydney in the previous two weeks?
Okay, admittedly you were up against two decent units in the Titans and South’s, and no one expects that you are going to be able to win every game in what is an extremely tight competition. Still, you were clearly off your game in those matches at a crucial period of the season when momentum is everything.
We just want to know that this was a temporary aberration, and that you will come down the home straight with the wind in your sails. You’ll need to, as well. What with a tough run over the last four weeks of the regular season, it is crucial that you continue to erect your form to sinister levels for your remaining matches against Newcastle, Brisbane, Manly and Parramatta. Two wins and you will have secured a spot in the top eight, that’s for sure. But feel free to forge your way to at least three wins against the above mentioned teams, hence, more than likely confirming a home match in the first week of the finals.
Against Cronulla, you soaked up the pressure during the first twenty minutes in which you showed us all that you were recovering your defensive abilities that you had displayed in your five match winning streak. Which was a splendid effort because Cronulla certainly threw everything they had in their attacking weaponry, your way.
Good teams can soak up the pressure and then, when the opportunity occurs, heap it right back on their foe. That’s what you did against Cronulla.
To be able to withstand the pressure for a sustained period, then turn it around and apply the blowtorch to your opposition, racking up a sizable total in the process was an inspiring effort. That must have been one of the most pleasing aspects for you: not just the defence, but as the match progressed your attack began to show more fluency. Swift ball movement when you had Cronulla stretched to the limit combined with good angles run by decoy runners. Not to forget that you finished these moves off with accuracy.
None more so than young right wing Bill Tupou. Hadn’t scored a try in nine first grade appearances, had Bill. Then, all of a sudden, he breaks his try scoring drought with a hat trick. And he’s not even the first choice in his position. Maybe having quality backup is starting to make you all go that little bit further to procure your place in the team, each week. This, of course, means that the likes of Tupou have to work even harder for their opportunity. And when they do, this is the result.
But don’t rest on your laurels, Bill. One good game does not a season make. You have a start now so please do your utmost to keep up the hard work and furnish your try scoring collection when the opportunities arise.
Don’t hesitate to dismiss the ridiculous criticism from their coach Shane Flannigan and captain Paul Gallen that you didn’t play well. Sour grapes on their part, that they lost and that their own season has long since gone done the gurgler, more than likely. Or is it possible that your performance was more impressive than they would care to admit? And that maybe the Australians are starting to get a touch worried that you are more of a threat than they thought you were going to be this season. After all, they wouldn’t want the NRL trophy heading over this side of the ditch, as well as the world cup. That would be just too much for them to bear, wouldn’t it.
If that is the case, take confidence from it, but remember, Newcastle this weekend will not be a walk in the park. They are coming off some fine form with two wins on the trot, and have a class player in Captain Kurt Gidley running their side from halfback. Not only Gidley, but Akuila Uate on the wing, who is the leading try scorer in the NRL this season with twenty. Lay a solid foundation up the middle of the ruck early on, and his effectiveness is diminished. You young Warriors props have got that in you haven’t you?
You have the same seventeen selected again this week that did the job so successfully against Cronulla. Which will be good for your combinations. That should help against a side that has to win to stay in contention for a top eight side. One loss and Newcastle-due to a negative point’s differential- are gone for the season. So you can be sure that they will show even more desperation than what they would normally.
But, that won’t bother you in the Warriors outfit, will it?
Surely it is just more of a challenge for a team that showed last weekend that they capable of launching a finals raid of significance.