NRL: Warriors find a spring in step

By Michael Brown

Bounce-back effect works wonders but now embattled NRL club must kick on.

Manu Vatuvei and Pita Godinet show the relief of a win. Photo / Richard Robinson
Manu Vatuvei and Pita Godinet show the relief of a win. Photo / Richard Robinson

Call it the bounce-back effect but the Warriors won a crucial match that not only lifted them off the bottom of the NRL table yesterday but also lifted the spirits of the ailing Auckland-based league club.

Their 28-12 win over Newcastle was important on many levels. It eases the pressure on everyone from the players to the kit man after their humiliating 62-6 defeat to Penrith.

It had been one of the most difficult weeks in the club's history, with anger and frustration vented by fans and calls for the coach and chief executive to be sacked. But the players responded with a win that will make this week a lot more enjoyable than the last.

The challenge now for the Warriors is to back it up against the Broncos next Monday night in Brisbane because another defeat will keep them rooted to the bottom of the table.

If they needed any evidence to see how hard that can be, they needn't look much further than their opponents. The Knights bounced back last week from a big drubbing to the Canberra Raiders a fortnight ago to hammer the Bulldogs.

"I'm struggling to come to terms with what happened," dejected Knights captain Kurt Gidley said. "You talk about the bounce-back of teams that get beaten but what was our bounce-back like after a good win? That's what we need to get sorted.

"It's good to win one week. But if you want to be a good team you need to be consistent and put decent back-to-back performances together and that's what we are struggling to do."

It was thought the Warriors might have turned a corner with their 25-24 defeat of the Titans three weeks ago but, instead, it ushered in a period of underachievement. None of the Warriors were getting carried away with yesterday's result.

"We enjoyed it, sung our team song and just quietly said there's a lot to work on," said halfback Shaun Johnson, who endured a difficult week after being substituted early against Penrith. "We are by no means thinking we are out of the deep end yet. We still understand this is just one of many that we have to go and get."

It will make a big difference if they can play every week with the sort of application they showed yesterday. They held the Knights scoreless in the second half and broke the game open in the second stanza with two tries in two minutes.

They were by no means perfect, pushing things too much when they had the opportunity to build pressure and missing the mark with their kicking game, but they grew in confidence as the game wore on.

It continued an extraordinary trend in which five of the six teams which had at least 50 points scored against them went on to win the following week.

Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett put this down to the salary cap. "It's not as hard as it used to be in the old days to bounce back," he said.

The Warriors now need the kick-on effect.

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- NZ Herald

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