NRL: Warriors have plenty of work to do

By Michael Brown

The Warriors haven't won in 10 NRL games, dating back to July last year, Photo / Getty Images
The Warriors haven't won in 10 NRL games, dating back to July last year, Photo / Getty Images

The Warriors needed to show some fight against the Roosters on Saturday night - and in the case of centre Konrad Hurrell he probably took that directive too literally as he squared up to Sonny Bill Williams - but they now need to find some more fluidity.

It was a dramatic improvement after their abject first-up display against Parramatta but they still went down to the Roosters 16-14 in front of more than 32,000 at Eden Park.

Their final 30 minutes was respectable, as they came back from a 16-0 deficit, but their first 50 was poor. They defended reasonably well, except for two extremely soft tries just after half time, but their attack lacked rhythm, accuracy and results.

Even captain Simon Mannering made three handling errors - he would barely make that many in a season - as they fumbled close to the Roosters' line or got in each other's way. They made 12 errors to the Roosters' six, completed 72 per cent of their sets and made just two linebreaks. They are not the sort of numbers to build pressure.

"We are not sitting here talking about effort and application," coach Matt Elliott said in reference to the change from their first game.

"Still our attack is not where we want it to be but it was good enough for us to win."

The Warriors haven't won in 10 NRL games, dating back to July last year, and things don't get any easier with Cronulla, North Queensland and the Rabbitohs looming in the next three weeks.

"We will make sure it's not easy for them, either," Elliott said. "There are no easy game in the NRL. With that baseline effort and the attitude the boys displayed, I am not optimistic, I am confident we will turn this around."

A lot will depend on their key playmakers. Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai are still in their early days of their combination and Elijah Taylor, more accustomed to playing in the back row, is workmanlike as opposed to dynamic at hooker.

Pita Godinet has provided a spark to the Warriors each time he has come on at dummy half in his last three games, and must now be pressing for a start in the No 9 jersey. He scored a good try darting close to the line and injected more pace to the Warriors' game.

It was unfortunate goalkicking was the difference because Johnson had an otherwise good game, scoring a 75m runaway try that sparked the turnaround and backing it up with a good kicking game, including the first 40/20 of his NRL career. But he doesn't look a natural goalkicker - he's kicked two from five so far this season - and badly scuffed his late attempt that could have taken the game into golden point.

Todd Lowrie (46 tackles) and Jacob Lillyman (123m and 31 crunching tackles) epitomised the sort of effort the Warriors put into the match and Lillyman saw some good signs in the match.

"I never thought we were in danger of big points being put on us," Lillyman said. "You can tell when there's a certain level of commitment there and there certainly was [against the Roosters]. It was worlds apart from last week when we all dropped our heads and couldn't wait for it to finish whereas we were positive and wanted to make a difference. Although it wasn't quite good enough, it was a step in the right direction."

- APNZ

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