Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sometimes it’s possible to get a little too uppish for one’s own good.

Take for example the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium, today. Yes, they won, and in the end, comfortably so over the Canberra Raiders. What the 29-10 score line did not show was, at times, a cavalier attitude towards ball security and what the most inappropriate times to offload were.

After a big win over South Sydney last weekend, there was an air of complacency about their play. It was as if they thought that all they had to do was turn up to gain victory. This was a pity, as there was much to like about their performance. But, for every good piece of work they produced, often it was undone by some lax attitudes, leading to errors.

In particular this was the case in the first half.

The king of the offload, Feleti Mateo, should have been laden with guilt as his midas touch deserted him. So often a game breaker, he failed to realise that one must always respect the opposition. That patience is a virtue. At times there was precious little of it in sight.

Such a shame this was as the Warriors had an opportunity on this mild winter’s day to put the visitors to the sword. Initially it looked as though they would as they had things all their own way over the opening fifteen minutes. It was total domination. Perhaps this added to their sense of invincibility and contentment, leaving them to think that the state of play was under their control.

8-0 up after fourteen minutes, the Warriors had forced Canberra to partake in making twice the number of tackles that they had.

Doubtless, the green eyed monster* should have been swarming within the Canberra outfit. All they wanted was some possession to show what they are capable of. But they simply couldn’t get their hands on the ball. Feelings of dread must surely have been amassing within at the thought of what fate may have in store for them.

But they are not ones to surrender without a fight. So, over the second half of the first half, they set about clawing their way back into the contest. Two tries and a conversion later, Canberra had a half-time lead of 10-8. They had fought back mightily. They deserved their lead if for nothing else other than for the tenaciousness they displayed.

The Warriors on the other hand had got exactly what they deserved; a good swift figurative kick up the backside. After such a fine start to the match they had squandered a sizeable advantage. Not just with a lead on the scoreboard, but also the mental edge they had held over the Raiders during the opening stanza.

Whatever was said in the sheds during the break, it worked. The Warriors came out a different side. The intensity of their work was elevated to a superior level. The offloads continued, but there was a more measured look about how the locals went about that work.

If the Warriors attack of the second half was good, then their defence upped the ante even further, not letting the Raiders cross their line. Whenever Canberra looked to be about to make a break, more often than not, one of the Warriors inside defenders would put a halt to any thoughts the attacker had of galloping off into the NRL try scoring mecca.

Numerous times the home side was forced to defend consecutive sets of six on their own line. That they never looked like cracking was testament to what was a top rate defensive effort.

And with an encounter with top four side Brisbane next week that defence will need to accompany the Warriors when they travel across the Tasman.

Along with an attitude of respect for what will be a very worthy foe.

Warriors 29
Tries M Vatuvei, BTupou, S Berrigan, J Moon, J Maloney, S Rapira. Con Maloney (2), field goal Maloney

Canberra 10
Tries D Vidot, J Croker
Con Croker (1)

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