Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mayhem and Havoc have introduced themselves to the Rugby League folk of the Sydney Football Stadium, today.

Not only did they show their faces, they went to great lengths to discriminate against the New Zealand Warriors right side attack as the infiltrated the left centre/wing combination of Joel Moon and Manu Vatuvei.

And oh what fun they had.

Mayhem took on the appearance of Moon as he helped himself to a duo of tries. Then, there was Havoc. Beastly in appearance, it did a fine impersonation of Vatuvei scoring a hat trick. Along with a host of other try scorers, Moon and Vatuvei dined out on a South Sydney defensive effort that was lacking in intensity for long durations of the match as the Warriors marched their way to a decisive 48-16 pounding of the home side.

Right from the opening whistle the Warriors went about imposing their will on the match. They did everything asked of them with the ultimate of precision. Props Ben Mautalino and Russell Packer bent the spine (often dragging several tacklers with them for an extra metre or two more than what would normally be expected) of the South’s defensive line with every carry of the ball. So young, yet performing like old timers. The Warriors look a better team when Mautalino starts.

Not that the two props sitting on the interchange bench didn’t contribute to proceedings. To the contrary, they did. And that’s the problem for the likes of South Sydney. Just as they gratefully see the back of Packer and Mautalino, on comes Jacob Lillyman and Sam Rapira to torment would-be tacklers.

Then there’s their kick/chase. While the kicking sometimes failed to find open space, the chase more than made up for it. South’s were almost always presented with a straight defensive line to try and manoeuvre their way through. Needless to say, the Aucklanders didn’t sway in their vigilant efforts to subjugate their foe into what they saw as a suitable amount of subordination.

Thus, over the initial quarter of play, South Sydney had nowhere to go. Not even allowed a wee peek in. The Warriors were in total command as they dominated to reave the opposition of possession. They not only got the basics right to a tee, but they supplemented it with the odd touch of brilliance, too.

First there was James Maloney and Bill Tupou combining to score the first try of the day after Maloney put a delicate chip kick into South’s in-goal for Tupou to dot down only inches from the dead ball line. Four minutes into the match and a start you could only dream about.

It was a kick that the great Stacey Jones would have been proud of. For many years now, the Warriors have struggled to find the right personnel to provide a top rate kicking game. He doesn’t always get it spot on, but a good proportion of the time he is superb. The Warriors have a good one in Maloney. This particular hunt is over.
And that could well apply to the halfback position as well. For Shaun Johnson’s star continues to rise. Sure, that star is well away from its apex. But its path has been set. There appears to be no turning back now as Johnson continues to improve. He seems to have it all. Even his supposedly weak defence has stood up to the rigours of the NRL’s big men running at him. And he has that one thing they say can’t be coached: speed. And plenty of this he showed as he intercepted an Isaac Luke pass as South’s forced their way into the Warriors red zone during the 9th minute. Not being of a social inclination at the time, Johnson decided to forge out on his own and hotfoot it on a seventy-five metre dash to touch down and - after Maloney’s conversion - give his side a 12-0 lead.

Two more converted tries, one each to Maloney and Vatuvei, over the following sixteen minutes and the Warriors were running riot over South’s already tenuous top eight ambitions as the home side’s chances were in a williwaw state of upheaval.
It had been the perfect start for the Warriors. But as good as it had been nothing lasts forever. Momentum had to swing at some stage.

South’s, at least temporarily, added a little more starch to their defence. All of a sudden they had three men in the tackle and were driving opposites backwards. If only they could compete with this intensity for eighty minutes. You never know what they could achieve. Alas, they only seem to appropriate such efforts for the odd occasion. Then, that is why they were down by twenty-four points and all of a sudden having to show added initiative. It worked for a short time. A 36th minute try to Dylan Farrell at least got them on the board.

There was a slight glimmer of hope for the green and reds. That it began to glow somewhat brighter still after the break did the South’s fans mood no end of good. They were starting to find their voice as Chris McQueen decided a little trip to the Warriors in-goal area was called for after he had gathered a John Sutton bomb. With a conversion from the boot of Chris Sandow, South’s had cut the Warriors lead to fourteen.

There was hope for them yet.

Until, that is, mayhem entered the fray in all its glory. Shining brightly it bestrode the stage like a rampaging colossus of try scoring supremacy. Moon, being the key holder to this chaos, was of course revelling in his return to first grade football. Defensively sound for the entirety of the match, he also looked likely to pierce on attack with his probing runs. A stint playing for the Auckland Vulcan’s in the New South Wales Cup appears to have given him the shock needed to work hard on his game and to return to the first grade fold a lot hungrier, not to mention a better player.

A mighty effort on his part and two tries to show for his trouble. The first, in the 59th minute, was a beauty. It displayed all the merits of a fully functioning team that were there to help each other out whenever the need arose. After all, there is no I in the word team. While individual brilliance contributed in the form of Feleti Mateo offloading to put Maloney in a gap whereupon he beat two defenders on a thirty metre run, they still required their team mates to give them the opportunity to star. And just because one does something out of the ordinary, there is no reason to sit back and rest on one’s laurels. As Mateo proved when he backed up after his initial pass to take the next one from Maloney and carry the movement on. It had started in the right hand corner of their twenty metre zone. By the time Moon dotted down in the left corner, it had encompassed a good hundred metres and several tackles. It was fast, fluent, efficient and is how Rugby League should be played. It was a team try.

Just when the Warriors had finished unloading mayhem upon the enemy, with little sympathy they acquired a sizeable doze of havoc to foist on South’s. They were ahead 34-16, but why not unleash the beast? Certainly, it appeared no one in the Warriors outfit could see a reason why not, as Maloney and Johnson each put a bomb up for Vatuvei in the 66th and 70th minutes. It turns out Vatuvei has a voracious appetite for bombs in the oppositions in-goal area. No one in the competition can score these types of tries any better than Vatuvei. Yet there are many that question his form and value to the team. Go figure.

With six weeks to go until finals football, there is a mad rush on for six teams fighting over the final three vacant play-off spots. With point’s differential crucial to a team’s chances, a big win was a bonus for the Warriors. 42-16 ahead with ten minutes to go to fulltime, it could have been easy to for them to clock off. They didn’t though. Instead they pushed hard for the remainder of the encounter.
And paid off it did. For in the 79th minute the Warriors added to South Sydney’s woe with one final try. These days, everyone is in a rush. Often, it’s too much of a rush. That’s when errors can occur. Usually these happen at the most inappropriate of times. It could be said that it is symptomatic of a modern society where no one likes to wait for anything. Pita Godinet is no exception in some ways, such was his haste to get to the try line. From five metres out he didn’t wait for anyone as he scooted with lightening quick acceleration. And there was no error to be seen from him.

He was clear thinking under pressure, and in the twenty minutes he spent on the field in his debut performance, he was sharp in attack. Which means the Warriors may have unearthed a likely prospect for the near future either in the halves or at hooker as a backup to the incumbents. A place on the interchange bench awaits him in 2012.

And Godinet’s future for next year appears to be as bright as his side’s chances are for the remainder of this season.

The Warriors are building very nicely towards what may be a rather fulfilling crescendo.

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