NRL: Numbers not adding for Warriors

By Michael Brown

It's not just on the NRL ladder that the Warriors rate poorly, they are also lagging behind on most statistical tables so far this season. Photo / Getty Images.
It's not just on the NRL ladder that the Warriors rate poorly, they are also lagging behind on most statistical tables so far this season. Photo / Getty Images.

It's not just on the NRL ladder that the Warriors rate poorly, they are also lagging behind on most statistical tables so far this season.

The Warriors have been dreadful so far this season, slumping to three defeats from their opening three games and will hope to turn it around against the Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium on Monday.

On nearly every measure the Warriors have been poor. They are easily last when it comes to tackle breaks (42), last equal on tries scored (6), last on linebreaks (5), last on the number of completions (67), second-last on offloads (21) and have missed the fourth-equal most tackles (81). On top of that, they have also made 32 errors (8th equal worst in NRL).

They have not been able to build pressure apart from a 30-minute period in the second half against the Roosters, which has invited trouble.

Their poor completion rate means they see less of the ball, have to work a lot harder on defence, fall off more tackles and become more vulnerable.

This has consequently affected confidence, which has blunted their attack. In reality, they are trapped in a vicious cycle of their own making.

No one has been immune. Captain Simon Mannering, normally the study of consistency, has been poor - he made three errors in the first half against the Roosters - and has looked visibly gloomier around camp than he normally is.

"I'm going to have to start playing a lot better than I have been, that's for sure,'' he said. ``I'm not helping the team at all with my performances. That's my first area I have to sort out. Around trainings, it's a matter of making sure we keep high standards that we can take into a game.

"We are going to have to work a lot better than we have done. When you play the way we have played you almost start accepting some bad habits and that's not what you want. It creeps into your game and it's not a good look at all. It's a matter of putting a performance together as a group and individually that you know you are capable of. If we do that, we won't have to worry about the result.''

Of course, the Warriors haven't enjoyed a positive result in their last 11 matches. Mannering insists he's not thinking about last season, when they lost their last eight games, but it's clear many of the doubts from that period are lingering.

It's irrelevant if it's a three-game or 11-game losing streak because the fact remains they are a long way from where they should be.

"It's disappointing,'' Mannering said. ``The way we are playing is pretty hard to cop. But there's still very much a desire in the squad to get ourselves out of this and perform well on the field.''

It hasn't helped that myriad injuries have hit them early in the campaign, and none more so than at hooker and prop. Nathan Friend is a chance to play at hooker on Monday, which would be a welcome return to the problem area, and Sam Rapira also returns after a week out with a hand injury, but they will still be without front-rowers Russell Packer and Steve Rapira.

It has affected their prop rotation - most teams carry four props in their 17 - and meant they have had to employ Sebastine Ikahihfo, normally a second-rower, up front.

Regardless, coach Matt Elliott still expects to win and wants the public to hold similar expectations of his side.

"Let's not dampen expectations,'' he said. 'I want to deal with that. We don't want to get off the radar.

"I at least want to give ourselves a chance to compete for the game but at the moment we are just not giving ourselves an opportunity to do that.''

Teams for the NRL rugby league match between the Warriors and Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, on Monday (6pm):

Warriors: Kevin Locke, Glen Fisiiahi, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Elijah Taylor, Ben Matulino, Ben Henry, Simon Mannering (c), Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Pita Godinet, Bill Tupou.

Cowboys: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston (c), Michael Morgan, Matthew Scott (c), Scott Moore, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Anthony Mitchell, Ashton Sims, Scott Bolton, Jason Taumalolo, Blake Leary.

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Tale of the Tape

Completions: 67/98 = 68 per cent

Tackle breaks: 42 (last)

Linebreaks: 5 (last)

Tries: 6 (equal last)

Offloads: 21 (second-last)

Missed tackles: 81 (12th equal)

Errors: 32 (8th equal)

- APNZ

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