David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Warriors retain line-up for Rabbitohs clash

Simon Mannering of the Warriors celebrates after scoring a try during the round 12 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights. Photo / Getty Images.
Simon Mannering of the Warriors celebrates after scoring a try during the round 12 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights. Photo / Getty Images.

The Warriors have retained an unchanged line-up for Saturday's clash against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Perth.

Aside from the 17 players used in Sunday's 38-18 win over the Newcastle Knights, utility Tuimoala Lolohea and prop Charlie Gubb are the only new faces included in the 19-man
squad making the 5345km trek to Western Australia tomorrow.

The encounter with the Rabbitohs is the Warriors' third consecutive game in Perth after playing South Sydney there last year and Manly in 2012.

Those two games resulted in defeats, prompting a change in their travelling schedule from the previous two years.

"We're going a day earlier than we would usually for an away game in Australia," McFadden said.

"We just want to ensure we enjoy the time away together as a group and focus on our performance."

The Warriors have won four of their past five games, and lost three since McFadden took charge.

Significant improvements have been apparent in their defence over that time, with the Warriors conceding an average of just 14 points a game.

On their return to Mt Smart Stadium, the Warriors backed up their impressive completion rate of 33 from 36 sets (92 per cent) with just 16 missed tackles; in his 50th appearance for the club hooker Nathan Friend made 51 tackles without a miss.

Captain Simon Mannering produced an outstanding display in his double milestone match, which saw him being the automatic choice as the players' player of the day.

As well as his two tries - only his fifth double in 200 NRL matches - the 27-year-old made 125 metres from 13 runs and came up with 24 tackles, eight tackle breaks, one off load and one line break. Only six players - all backs - top his tally of 47 tries for the club; he now has a record of 53 wins and 47 losses as a captain.

Ben Matulino looms as the next Warrior to reach a career landmark. He is now just eight games short of playing his 150th game since his debut in 2008.

With Sunday's win over Newcastle the Warriors completed the first half of their 2014 campaign with a 50 per cent success rate from six wins and six losses.

A first victory in Perth this weekend would give them a positive win-loss record for only the second time in the last 10 seasons matching their 7-6 ratio after 13 matches in 2011.

After scoring yet another career double on Sunday, winger Manu Vatuvei now has 25 tries in his last 28 matches. With 127 tries in 182 games - the fifth highest among current NRL players - Vatuvei has scored nine tries in 11 games this year and needs only one more to complete the feat of touching down for 10 tries or more in nine successive seasons.

Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins, 2. David Fusitu'a, 3. Konrad Hurrell,4. Ngani Laumape, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Chad Townsend, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Jacob Lillyman, 9. Nathan Friend, 10. Suaia Matagi, 11. Jayson Bukuya, 12. Ben Matulino, 13. Simon Mannering (c).

Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Sam Rapira, 16. Feleti Mateo, 17. Sebastine Ikahihifo, 18. Tuimoala Lolohea, 19. Charlie Gubb.

- NZ Herald

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