Round ten is upon us, four and five, the New Zealand Warriors are still alive. Eleventh on the ladder, two from three, they’re on a roll. Good form has met their acquaintance, they’re in it no matter what the toll.
Further surges of momentum beckon. Win against the Roosters tonight, and their season could take flight. West Tigers next week, then a bye, six points is there for the bite.
Opportunities abound to seek out courageously when they come around. Their chances are rated as sound.
Lose and it may not be over, but life will get a lot harder, there’ll be nowhere to hide, suffering may be coming in with the tide. Playing catch-up is never the desired way to go, consistency is the building block from which success grows, in more ways than one.
Team selection meets that criterion. Except for Nathan Friend, of course, who bravely played seventy-five minutes with a broken jaw last week. Toughness appealed to the dummy-half, but it would be rough to expect him to back-up.
He could never be replaced, many could try until they die, forty tackles made per match, if only his replacement could emulate this on Friend’s patch.
Alehana Mara by name, he’s got a friends job to tame. Eighty minutes is not his go, or else he would blow. His workload will be shared with Lewis Brown, for shorter stints allow his attack to flow, where he can glow. Wait for the opportune moment, with speed off the mark to burn and tiring opposition forwards backpedalling, then it will be Mara’s turn.
Ideally suited to coming off the interchange bench at the twenty minute mark, perhaps the element of surprise could be utilised with Brown to start and Mara to later enter the park. The young man has potential to run riot, but be careful, as defence is not to be sacrificed.
A mighty team effort prevailed against Brisbane on defence. Effortless it appeared, but take nothing for granted. Premiership contenders build as the season takes shape, improving on the previous performance in ever expanding increments.
Here, tonight, is the chance to ramp up last week’s effort to another level. To take the bull by the horns and display a ruthless streak, allowing no consolation tries in, plugging the occasional cavity in the middle of the ruck that was exploited by the Broncos.
And the Warriors will have to be on their guard up against a big aggressive forward unit in Sydney City who will willingly take on the home side up the middle.