Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Maybe, just maybe, the New Zealand Warrior’s season isn’t a lost cause as many had believed a week ago.

Back then, they could not have played much worse. Tonight at AAMI Park in Melbourne, they were at their best as they caused a major upset by downing the Melbourne Storm in an 18-14 thriller.

Sometimes when a side has been playing poorly there is no suitable explanation for that sub-par form. They struggle to determine where the next good performance, let alone a win, will come from. But, then, for no apparent reason when it is least expected, they click and put on a display that no one saw coming. Them included.

Well, the Warriors just clicked. Ninth place on the NRL ladder they now inhabit. If they had lost to the Storm, their top eight chances would have started to look a somewhat forlorn hope. Now, though, they are close enough to realistically make a foray further up the table. Onwards and upwards for them. The conquest of the top eight is there for them if they are good enough. They will have only themselves to blame if they fail.

This was Rugby League at its best. It was end to end stuff. Just as one team had made a sweeping length of the field movement, the other would conspire to give as good as they took, having the tenacity to counter-punch and put on a show of their own. Between times they would find the strength to put on a display of the mightiest of defensive efforts. Hits that could be heard from afar such were the ferocity of many of the tackles.

The modern day player really is a marvel. Take Kristian Inu, for example. Many was the time that the Storm would terrorise the Warriors defence with pinpoint bombs only for Inu to out leap the incoming invaders. Saved his side time and again, he did. The Warriors bought a goodun there, that’s to be sure.

Inu wasn’t the only performer of high calibre though. Sam Rapira and Russell Packer weren’t content to leave the match unscathed from their bullocking runs up the middle of the park. Not far behind were the likes of Lewis Brown and Ukuma Ta’ai. In fact, it was hard to find a dud amongst either side such was the quality of the play. Very few errors were committed, and those that were made were more often than not of the forced variety.

Yes, all tastes were catered for. There was something for everyone to enjoy. Only society’s truly bizarre could possibly find something to quibble about amongst this splendid array of the rugby league senses.

With the lack of errors came the need for a clever kicking game. Melbourne’s Cooper Cronk was without peer. Nearly always, he would find space on a 5th tackle kick or put up a bomb on the last tackle that would come down within a metre of the Warrior’s goal line. Brett Seymour and James Maloney, for the Warrior’s, were good, in particular during the first half.

And it was in the first half that they were able to race to a substantial lead due to that good performance from the two halves. The kicking game of the halves, for now, was on song.

Melbourne, despite opening the scoring with a try to Beau Champion in the third minute, simply could not handle the Warrior’s for most of the opening forty minutes.

After having no ball at all for the first three hundred seconds, the Warrior’s dominated for the next thirty-five minutes. They showed just how good they can be. Forwards went straight up the middle for the majority of the time. The Storm couldn’t contain them. Packer, on occasions could be seen with four tacklers all over him, and yet they still struggled to bring him to ground.

With the forwards laying a solid foundation of positive go-forward, gaps were appearing around the fringes of the ruck for the backs as well as ball players in the mode of Feleti Mateo and Ta’ai to make in-roads. They did it with aplomb.

By the 22nd minute, the Storm had been on the back foot for the best part of fifteen minutes. With no ball to play with, they had to snap, and they did as Seymour put up a towering kick on the fifth tackle to Melbourne winger Matt Duffie’s right side defence. Spilled the ball he did and a grateful Inu pounced on the loose ball to dive over seven metres in from the touchline. Maloney missed the conversion, but, the Warrior’s were back in the game.

A penalty to Maloney three minutes later levelled the scores at six a piece. From here the Warrior’s put the pedal to the metal and forged ahead showing a touch of √©lan about their work. Style and vigour, they certainly possessed. The better they got, the more flustered Melbourne became. A case of role reversal seemed to be in play. For, the Warrior’s were doing a Melbourne on Melbourne. It was the visitors playing with a clinical precision in everything they did. From the constant unabated go-forward, to the quick play the balls, backed up by sharp dummy half running, a sparkling kicking game and a kick chase that took Billy Slater out of the equation on many an occasion. It was perfection.

And by the 29th minute the Storm cracked. Having worked their way forward in their usual industrious manner, the Warriors found themselves three metres out from the Storm’s goal line. From dummy half, Aaron Heremia gave a nifty little short pass to Jacob Lillyman, who found that he was in gap and having no one to mingle with, dived over under the crossbar with no fear of being harassed by the nowhere to be seen Storm defenders.

With a 12-6 lead and playing sublime football, the stars were aligning for the Warrior’s. All was good in their world.

It got even better three minutes later as the Warrior's form got even hotter. They had, in fact, turned the heat in the melting pot that is AAMI Park up to an untouchable boiling point for the Storm.

Into that pot went one tablespoon of Ukuma Ta’ai, a sprinkling of the Storm winger Anthony Quinn and one cup of Michael Luck. Give it a good stir and what you come up with is an attacking raid on the Warriors right side attack by Ta’ai who had the ball knocked from his grasp by Quinn, only for Luck- who was dutifully backing up on the inside- to dive on the loose ball for a four pointer and an 18-6 lead after Maloney had converted.

Cameron Smith kicked a penalty twenty seconds out from half-time which gave his side a glimmer of hope at 18-8. Anymore of a margin and a victory was getting close to being in the too hard basket.

The match was there for the taking for the Warrior’s. If they could continue on as they had for much of the match, they would be taking a colossal step on the road to finals football. It is only round seven, but their season was at the make or break stage already. Another loss and it would be a long road to hoe from here. A streetcar named desire was sitting ready to take them on the initial stages of their journey.

Did they want it badly enough? Were they going to hop in and starve off the inevitable fight back that the Storm would almost certainly mount?

You betcha they did.

It didn’t matter that they no longer were the attacking force that had controlled the first half of proceedings. Momentum was about to swing. Attack wasn’t going to capture a win for the New Zealand side. It was defence that would win the day. Teammates would have to stand side by side and fight for the common good. If one missed a tackle, another would need to cover. Never mind that the body was already aching from the ferocious pace of the match until now. That that same body was quietly but forcefully begging the mind to take heed of the searing pain penetrating its way through every fibre of its being.

That pain took a turn for the worse in the 44th minute when on a fifth tackle kick, Slater launched himself towards the heavens, knocking the pill back into the waiting arms of Cronk who dived over to touchdown five metres wide of the right upright. With Smith’s conversion, they had closed the margin to four points.

Now was the time for the Storm to throw everything they had at their foe. And they did. They had a field day down their left side attack. Each and every time they steered a course in this direction, they were to find space galore and overlaps there for the taking. Dane Nielsen was having a great time of it. The Warrior’s were constantly having trouble bring the centre to ground. But, their desperation showed through, as somehow, each time, they found a way to deny Melbourne scoring opportunities.

There was the time Inu diffused a bomb centimetres from his own line. Heart in the mouth stuff for the Warrior’s fans, but not he, for he gave no thought to self preservation as he calmly stood his ground in the face of numerous Storm marauders bearing down on him.

And in the 74th minute as Beau Champion was making haste for the Warrior’s in-goal area, it was none other than Inu who was on hand again to save the day along with Lewis Brown as they knocked the ball loose just as champion was about to dive for the try line.

On this night, this desperation summed up the New Zealand Warrior’s. It was one for all and all for one.

And this is why their final’s aspirations are still alive.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Every rugby league team needs an enforcer.

And, back in the day, there was none better than Kevin Tamati.

Not only could he hold his own as a blockbusting front rower for the Kiwis and English side Warrington, but, if there was an opposition player getting out of line back in the seventies and eighties, no sooner had that upstart stepped over the line, than he was fast retreating at the hands of Tamati.

Of course, there was that most infamous of occasions, as the Kiwi’s did battle with their Australian counterparts in the cauldron of Lang Park on June 18 1985, when Tamati and Greg Dowling were both sin binned for fighting. Not content to leave activities on the field of play, Dowling, having something of a death wish and clearly deciding that a sideline brawl with the menacing Kiwi front rower would be a simple form of euthanasia, provoked Tamati as they were about to walk into the tunnel.

"There was derogatory remarks about my colour, verbal abuse, racial abuse about who I was and my ancestry," Tamati revealed many years later.

The words used included "f...ing nigger" and "f...ing black bastard," he said.

Tamati was incensed with the racist sledging and when he felt Dowling's hand on his back, he snapped and a fight ensued.

If Dowling had held his own moments earlier in the initial melee, that’s where an even contest ended. Dowling, unfortunately for him, discovered that Tamati was no ham on rye. Infuriated, Tamati took to his Aussie foe, fair pummelling Dowling who got his comeuppance as he was beaten to a bloody pulp.

One does not need to extend the mind too far to realise that that sort of behaviour on the field these days would be frowned upon, not to mention incurring a hefty suspension. But, it was more common place back in those much simpler times.

So events that night sure seemed stranger than fiction itself. Maybe, it was a case of life imitating art such is the hero worship that is devoted to this one piece of sporting history.

His proclivities for the occasional brouhaha aside, Tamati had a stellar career.

Introduced to the world on September 23 1953 in the small rural Hawke’s bay settlement of Bridge Pa, he was fortunate to come through a golden era of rugby league in New Zealand.

Along with the likes of Mark Graham, Hugh McGahan, Olsen Filipina, he helped form the backbone of a team that Kiwi coach of the time, Graham Lowe, had holding their own with all comers.

It took awhile for Tamati to rise to the rarefied heights of test football, though.
He may have been representing Wellington from the youthful age of nineteen in 1972, but it wasn’t until he was twenty-six in 1979 that he finally broke through to gain his Kiwi debut against England.

Once there, he became a permanent fixture through until 1985 making twenty-two appearances, and scoring one try. Those were the days of the three point try.
Before he got to that stage in his career, though, he had the small matter of some hard graft for seven years.

Having shifted to Wellington in 1971, he took up rugby league, playing for local club, Petone Panthers.

Talent was not lacking in the young Tamati, for in 1972 he made his representative debut for Wellington. At 5ft10in and ninety-five kilo’s, he wasn’t exactly a monster in the same vein as we see in the modern game. But what he lacked in size he more than made up for with toughness.

Many years later in 1984, he would play for his then club, Northcote Tigers, in Auckland, on a Saturday and then fly to Wellington to play for the Randwick Kingfishers on the Sunday. The modern day player may back-up occasionally the day after a rep game, but certainly not every week as Tamati did.

So, then, mental and physical toughness aplenty there was on the part of the Hawke’s Bay native.

No doubt this fortitude helped him make his way in what could be a brutal sport at local level throughout the seventies with fifty-seven appearances for Wellington. His last appearance for his province came in 1982.

Having strutted his stuff on the local scene now for ten years, and being a regular in the Kiwi’s for three years, new challenges were needed.

What better place than England to find something that offering. Not only would he have the chance to take his career to the next level, but, also, see the world. This he did, when he signed for Widnes in 1982. It turned out to be a rather fruitful experience for Tamati, culminating in an appearance in the 1984 Challenge Cup Final, as his side completed a 19-6 victory over Wigan. In that Wigan side was his cousin and fellow Kiwi rep, Howie Tamati. Nothing like a bit of friendly family rivalry.
Some twelve months later, he was to embark on the next episode in what was already a long and distinguished career with a three year stint playing for Warrington. As at Widnes, finals glory marched its way into his existence when in 1986 he took his place in Warrington’s 38-10 victory over Halifax.

Two years later, Tamati drew the curtain on his illustrious career.

After sixteen years in the sport, the last six of which were spent playing professionally, league had become a lifelong love affair.

Instead of heading back home, he stayed on in Britain and began coaching. Over an eleven year period, Tamati spent his time at Salford and two other lesser clubs, Chorley and Whitehaven.

Tamati was inducted into the New Zealand Rugby League legends of league in 1995. He is an Auckland Rugby League Immortal.

These days, he is back in New Zealand and is currently the Rugby League referee coordinator for the Hawke’s Bay Rugby League.

Which is absolutely fantastic to see a former player giving back to the game that gave him so much.

And most would agree that Tamati deserves to be remembered for all the good he has done and achieved in the game.

Not one incident all those years ago.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Okay, that left a lot to be desired.

In fact it was a dismal display on the part of the New Zealand Warriors as they went down 20-10 to Manly at Brookvale Oval tonight.

Gone was the team of the previous two weeks that had stepped up to the mark in the forward contests. Instead, it was more reminiscent of the rabble that turned up for the opening three rounds. They had a couple of weeks off as good form introduced itself to the Warriors against the Sharks and Roosters.

Tonight, though, an error ridden performance snuck back into the Warriors game with a vengeance. After a tremendous opening set of six, it was all downhill from there on in. As much as they tried to take Manly on up the middle, they simply were outmuscled by a superior unit that had no trouble stopping the Warrior’s forwards from heading northwards.

On the flipside, Manly forwards-in particular Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart and George Rose- found metres easy to come by up the middle of the ruck.

Once they had achieved their mission to decimate the Warriors pack, east they would go at times, west at others. Whichever way it was though, the Warriors defence out wide was been exposed with monotonous regularity. They simply could not contain their opposites.

The only real surprise was that the Warriors managed to hold Manly out for the opening quarter of the encounter. What was even more surprising was that they were the first to score.

For in the 22nd minute, after a 5th tackle handover by Manly due to a rare error on their part, centre Shaun Berrigan-who was to break his left hand in the second half- made a twenty metre surge into enemy territory only to be brought down two metres from the Manly goal line. From the resulting play the ball, Lewis Brown, barged over from dummy half to give the Warriors a 4-0 lead against the run of play.

With a strong wind behind them in the first half, the visitors would need to extend their lead significantly. Alas, it was not to be as transmission returned to normal programming with Manly putting the Warriors under increasing amounts of pressure. The lead was to be of an ephemeral nature.

Five minutes of sustained pressure and finally the Warriors defence could take no more. After forcing a goal line drop-out on their foe, Daly Cherry-Evans put a grubber kick on the next set of six into the Warriors in-goal for Brett Stewart’s replacement, Michael Oldfield, to gather and dot down out wide. Cherry-Evans converted to give his side a 6-4 lead. It was an advantage that they were never to relinquish again.

Momentum was now well and truly on the side of the locals. Helped along, it must be said, by Kristian Inu kicking out on the full from the restart. A schoolboy mistake from a professional footballer of Inu’s undoubted pedigree you would not expect.

With momentum came soaring confidence levels on Manly’s part. Self belief ran riot, chests heaved their way towards expansion, and young men of limited experience such as Kieran Foran played like seasoned veterans. Others of more senior years took on the appearance of their more junior team mates. Bustling, bristling, feeling as sprightly as could be, there was nothing they couldn’t do. Steve Matai could be relied on to pop up at a moment’s notice to bust the Warriors defensive line. Watmough was at risk of impersonating a runaway train. Stewart delighted in drawing defenders in on the fringes, then putting one of those Fancy Dan’s from the backline into space. Yep, young and old alike they were at one with each other.

That bond only got stronger in the 30th minute when winger Michael Robertson went over in the left corner to increase the lead to 10-4.

The Warriors could not get a look in. With their defensive work load skyrocketing, on the rare occasions that they procured themselves a few scraps of possession, they were too tired to do anything meaningful with it.

Outside of giving away penalties, that is.

One such moment was in the 35th minute where a penalty allowed Foran and Jamie Buhrer to strike up an accord. Sinister in nature, guilty both of passing themselves off as high class talent, the magnitude of their actions could not be underestimated as Foran went to the line and delved deep into his seemingly endless bag of tricks to put Buhrer through a gap with a superbly timed pass. All that was left to do was for Buhrer to race fifteen metres to score dive over in the left corner. This he did with ease.

14-4 down at half-time for the Warriors and in reality there was no way back for them. Having played with the wind in the opening forty minutes, it was their chance to put some distance between them and Manly. Well, they sure managed that. It’s just that they got it the wrong way around.

If they couldn’t stay on par with the wind behind them, how were they going to match what was clearly a better outfit into the wind? The answer, of course, was that they couldn’t.

Particularly when the likes of Feleti Mateo were busy giving up mindless penalties for throwing the ball away. All he achieved was to invite Manly to extend what had already been a dominant performance.

They didn’t need a second invitation either, as they pushed on in their unending pursuit of excellence. Much like the first half, Manly were still finding space on the edges of the Warriors crumbling city. Gaining more territory with every passing minute, their sets of six more often than not were now starting thirty-five metres out from their own line instead of in their own twenty.

They had won the smaller battles. Now it was time to win the war and declare victory.
Which they effectively did in the 54th minute as Joe Galuvao dived over ten metres wide of the right upright. Cherry-Evans converted and Manly have secured themselves an unassailable lead.

Not even a late try to Elijah Taylor could give the Warriors any hope of a late comeback. It was to be nothing more than a consolation try.

The Warriors simply could not compete with the locals, who were in a different league. It’s not that the visitors didn’t give it their all. They did. For eighty minutes they stuck at their task, but were outplayed by an opposition playing on a totally different level.

An opposition that are increasingly looking a likely top four proposition as opposed to a team at risk of missing the top eight in 2011.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another week, another casualty at the hands of Coach, Ivan Cleary’s, hard line approach to underperforming players.

Last week, he dropped three and made a multitude of positional changes.

This week, for the New Zealand Warrior’s fifth round match against the Sydney Rooster’s on Saturday, it is Russell Packer who suffers a trip back to the Warrior’s back-up team, the Auckland Vulcan’s.

His replacement, Jeremy Lattimore, comes onto the interchange bench, while Sam Rapira moves into the starting line-up, in an otherwise unchanged outfit.

For Packer, the harsh realities of increased player depth in the Auckland club this year, have hit home. No longer can he or his teammates expect to retain their positions with sub-standard performances.

Against Cronulla on Sunday, he struggled to make ground up the middle of the ruck against a hard uncompromising forward unit. Likewise in the previous week’s encounter with St George.

Two weeks in succession and something had to give. It did, his position in front row. Up against two strong forward packs he may have been, but then they are the benchmark and he hasn’t been up to scratch.

The changes for the Cronulla match worked a treat for Cleary. Gone, it appears, on his part, is a conservative approach to team selection.

With his playing staff now aware that poor performances will not be tolerated, supporters can look forward to a team on the improve.

Of which there is still plenty of room for. One such area for concern was some of the offloading. More precisely, when to offload. Feleti Mateo was the main culprit here. While he had his moments where his high risk antics came off, on the whole, many of his attempted offloads led to the handover of possession.

There would have been no thought given to dropping him as he has the potential to set this team alight on attack. Just a little more care and thought as to when he offloads, would do the trick.

His backline would certainly benefit from it. In particular boom fullback Glen Fishiiahi. He was a revelation against the Shark’s, scoring two tries in the Warrior’s first win of the season and certainly did more than enough to hold onto the spot ahead of Lance Hohaia. Yet, one had the feeling that the young man was weighed down somewhat by the pressure of the situation.

Of which he has admitted as much.

That he performed as he did, speaks volumes, not only for his mental toughness, but, also, for what he could achieve once he can relax and feel comfortable in the role.

With Simon Mannering and Shane Berrigan remaining in the centres, there is plenty of experience around Fishiiahi and young wing Bill Tupou to help guide them through the minefield that is first grade football.

Warrior's team to play Sydney Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium:

Glen Fisiiahi, Bill Tupou, Shaun Berrigan, Simon Mannering (captain) Krisnan Inu, Feleti Mateo, James Maloney, Sam Rapira, Aaron Heremaia, Jacob Lillyman, Lewis Brown, Ukuma Ta'ai, Micheal Luck. Interchange: Kevin Locke, Jeremy Latimore, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Finally the New Zealand Warriors have set sail in their search of NRL glory today as they secured their first win of the season over Cronulla at Owen Delaney Park in Taupo. Careful they had to be as they boarded, though, as there were a plethora of menacing sharks circling as they lay in wait, eagerly anticipating the opportunity to defile any number of the Warriors playing staff.

They gave it a mighty shot too, as the Cronulla forwards, led by the irrepressible Paul Gallen, took the game to its foe. Scared of no one are Cronulla. Gone are the days of yesteryear where they were often on the receiving end of a thirty point pummelling. Nowadays, they fight every second of the way. They may not win every week, but, their opposition will know they have been in a torrid examination, each and every time.

It was a match that had a bit of everything. From a dazzling array of attacking options that were on display to the often bone-crunching defence of both sides, it was heavenly. Offloads aplenty and the occasional yet delightful chip kick, there were. Not a one from either side gave any consideration to being tackled in possession.

Much better, these hard working athletes mused, to give an entertaining spectacle of end to end football. The offloading didn’t always come off, but, hell, it sure was a sumptuous viewing experience.

Not sure that the respective coaches, Ivan Cleary and Shane Flanagan would concur, mind. Heart palpitations were more than likely the order of the day for these two.
Particularly in the case of Cleary, as he had to sit through eighty minutes of watching stand-off Feleti Mateo attempt some of the most outlandish offloads imaginable. A fiction writer with an imagination of the highest order couldn’t dream up some of the stuff that Mateo came up with. That he thought nothing of trying to offload while being hounded by three tacklers suggests a pep talk from the coach in the upcoming days about picking the appropriate time to offload, would not go amiss. As Oscar Wilde once said, "some people know the price of everything but the value of nothing". Certainly, Mateo quickly needs to acquaint himself with the value of retaining possession.

Admittedly, there were moments in time where Mateo did get the ball away to a support player. And his teammates were drawn to him like moths to a flame. Glen Fishiiahi, in particular, was being the enthusiastic support player that you would expect of a free ranging fullback as he lurked in the near vicinity waiting for any opportunity that felt the urge to approach this young superstar in the making.
If he wasn’t shadowing Mateo around the park, Fishiiahi would find other ways in which to amuse himself. Such as scoring tries. A better pastime there could not possibly be for a young player with aspirations of NRL fame and fortune.

Take long, it didn’t for Fishiiahi to find the try line. Only two minutes, in fact. After the Shark’s had lost the ball trying to offload, Warrior’s captain Simon Mannering scooped up the loose ball and sent right winger Bill Tupou stampeding his way along their right flank on a whirlwind forty metre dash before passing on the inside to Fishiiahi to finish off the movement by dotting down twenty metres wide of the right upright. With the conversion by James Maloney, the Warrior’s had an early 6-0 lead.

Cleary’s gamble of replacing some of his more experienced players such as Lance Hohaia and Brett Seymour with young blood looked like it may be a masterstroke.
But, it was only early days. As they were about to find out when in the 12th minute Cronulla’s Jeremy Smith barged over under the crossbar to level the scores at six a piece.

Cronulla, in 2011, have a big, strong, and hard as nails forward pack that isn’t afraid to bash their way up the middle of the ruck. A blunt instrument, as it were. Flash they may not be, but extremely effective they are. A team can have all the fancy back’s in the world, but, if their forwards don’t set a base initially, then those backs will be of no great effect.

And the Shark’s set about attaining that much needed platform. Despite the Warrior’s going ahead 8-6 after Gallen was penalised for taking Fishiiahi out without the ball, it was Cronulla who were getting the better of proceedings, now. The forwards were making splendid ground up the middle of the park with each sortie. And the Warrior’s, try as they might, simply could not close the Shark’s down. It got worse as Cronulla offloaded at every given opportunity.

Fullback Nathan Gardner was having a fabulous time of it. Profiting from the random nature of the game, he was taking great delight in irritating the Warrior’s defence. His runs were fiendish of nature, cruel in all their entirety as he enticed his foe to approach their nemesis in the hope of having him submit in the tackle. And just when a gaggle of Warriors players thought they had Gardner cornered, he would weave and zigzag his way to a few more metres of freedom.

Cronulla were on a roll. However, they didn’t count on the brave and courageous defence of the Warrior’s. They had no right to keep the Shark’s from scoring for a twenty minute period where they were being dominated. As per the norm, Michael Luck, was doing his utmost to impersonate a tackling machine. The untiring lock forward thinks nothing of making fifty tackles in a match. Without him, where would the Warriors be? It absolutely doesn’t bear thinking about.

Regardless of his and his mate’s best efforts to sustain their defensive over the previous twenty minutes, they just couldn’t hang on any longer. For, in the 31st minute Wade Graham crossed the chalk to give Cronulla a 12-8 lead. Which is where the score remained for another twenty minutes.

If the first half had been highly entertaining, just wait till you hear the tale of the second stanza. For, both teams revved up the intensity to near breaking levels. The hits in defence got harder, and were sustained for the majority of the half. The offloading-though you wouldn’t think it possible-became even more prevalent. What’s more, the attacking prowess, of the Warrior’s in particular, bordered on the sublime.
One criticism of the Warrior’s attack at times is that is relies heavily on a last tackle bomb for Manu Vatuvei. With “the beast” out with injury, the option of the kick seemed to have been put away for the time being.

And who needs it, anyway?

Certainly not Fishiiahi.

For, in the 51st minute he decided to show-off his attacking chops. On the menu was a left foot step to leave Broderick Wright helplessly stranded as he slashed his way through the Shark’s defence, leaving a clear run of thirty metres for “the fish” to dot down. Maloney, who ended up with a perfect kicking record for the day, converted to give his side a 14-12 lead.

Another two tries, one in the 60th minute to Maloney, the other in the 71st, to Kristin Inu and the Warriors had put the game beyond the reach of a hungry Shark’s side that has been intent on righting the wrongs of their 2010 campaign, this year.
A late converted try to Cronulla narrowed the score to 26-18 in the Warrior’s favour, but the game was gone by that stage.

The Warrior’s had put on an unsullied attacking display over the final forty minutes. Bodes well, it does, for a side that has discovered some bright young things who have the potential to turn this club into an attacking force. Fishiiahi was the star, but let us not forget the likes of Bill Tupou and Ukuma Ta’ai who more than held their own against one of the toughest, uncompromising teams going around.

And then there was Elijah Taylor, who looks to be in his element.

Inu gets better with each passing week, looking likely every time he touches the steeden.

Cleary has a job on his hands with Mateo, but if he can harness Mateo’s undoubted ability on attack, then this is a side that could become one of the more fearsome attacking propositions going around.

Yep, this is a team with a goodly amount of potential, that’s to be sure.

Down on confidence after three consecutive losses, they showed what they are capable of by beating a team that will make the top eight this year.