David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Angry halftime spray inspires Warriors to win

Manu Vatuvei celebrates scoring against the Knights. Photo / Getty
Manu Vatuvei celebrates scoring against the Knights. Photo / Getty

An angry halftime spray from coach Andrew McFadden inspired the Warriors to a much-improved second-half performance in today's 40-18 win over Newcastle.

After starting well to score the first try through Solomone Kata after three minutes, the Warriors dropped their intensity and errors hindered much of their attacking play.

Front-rower Ben Matulino said a no-nonsense talking to from McFadden and captain Ryan Hoffman set them straight, and they dominated the second-half on the back of a much improved and more direct forward effort.

"It was a pretty bad one (but) it worked," said Matulino.

"Hoffy sprayed us at halftime as well. A lot of passes were hitting the ground at the end of the first half and that made the difference. Most of the passes (in the second-half) were on the button and guys got through.

"We started well and then as soon as they got their chance with their own good ball they scored and we were pretty soft and let in some soft tries.

"I was on the end of two of them so I'm expecting another big spray tomorrow."

His personal assessment is a harsh one, as Matulino's 37th minute try allowed the Warriors to head to the sheds at 12-12.

The 27-year-old led the way for the home side, getting through almost 70 minutes in one stretch, and making 19 runs for 139 metres and 29 tackles.

After a highly structured first-half, the Warriors looked their best when they focused on making yards and creating attacking momentum.

"The main thing we're trying to learn is earning the way we can play and we still haven't done that," he said.

"It wasn't crisp today but it's getting there. Those tries were just all off the cuff and none of it was really set play or moves we had practiced.

"We're lucky we've got guys who can do that in the team but we're still looking for that complete performance where we can score off repeat sets.

"That's the kind of game we need to get into, because against top four teams that's what's going to be needed."

As it happened: Warriors v Knights

Knights halfback Trent Hodkinson admitted the Warriors played into the visitor's hands with some structured and sideways attack in the first-half, however, the second-half provided a different challenge.

"They're a big side and we expected them to come down the middle before shifting it wide," said Hodkinson.

"In that second-half they did a bit of damage when they were going forward and they played off the back of that.

"In the first half they played a bit lateral and we found it a bit easier to contain but once they got a roll on it was hard to stop."

- NZ Herald

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