David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

League: Warriors close to finding right balance

The attacking style seen against the Roosters is where the side is at their best, says McFadden.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden believes his team are close to playing the brand of attacking football that suits them best, with a fine balance of tight forward play and open, expressive running through the backline.

The Warriors' attack has been building in the last two victories over the Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters with some brilliant tries coming on the back of some of the club's trademark razzle dazzle.

McFadden is happy for his players to throw the ball around when opportunities present themselves but says the cornerstone of their improving form has been their go-forward through the middle of the park.

So long as they commit to working hard to gain yardage and momentum, particularly in their own half, he remains comfortable with them unleashing some more expansive and ad-lib play.

"What you saw on the weekend [against the Roosters] is the style of footy we want to play," said McFadden.

"There's a balance around that and you don't always get that right balance.

"And sometimes it changes from game to game depending on the circumstances.

"That's a style of footy that we like to play. It is more expansive and more ad-lib but that's not at the expense of being direct as well."

The Warriors' attack through the first three rounds centred on various set-plays involving decoy runners, but a lack of cohesion and go-forward meant they were often easily contained by Wests Tigers, Brisbane and Melbourne.

That trend continued into the first half of the Newcastle clash when many of their attempts to spread the ball early in sets saw them running laterally, before McFadden's angry halftime spray directed them back to basics and encouraged them to play off the back of their forward power.

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"Sometimes it doesn't [work] because you haven't won the middle of the ruck," he said. "The impact of your plays out wide, there's a correlation between the way you win the middle of the field as well.

"So when you don't quite have that intent or aggression like we didn't [in the first half against Newcastle], all of a sudden your lateral plays don't work as well.

"When you get it right in the middle things seem to change."

The use of decoys has also come under close scrutiny this season with referees and the new bunker system clamping down hard on any player who catches the ball behind the inside shoulder of a decoy runner.

McFadden hopes their interpretation of the rule loosens as the season progresses, but admits the current crackdown is prompting the Warriors to consider alternative ways to attack their opponents.

Against the Roosters they benefited more from Issac Luke's running out of dummy half and only Shaun Johnson's second try came from a rehearsed set-play, while their other five four-pointers came off-the-cuff.

"They need to make an adjustment to their adjudication of the decoy runners," McFadden said. "They've made it very black and white but grey in other areas.

"There's always going to be some differing opinions about when there is obstruction but they've got to change the way they're looking at it at the moment.

"But in the meantime we're going to have to be wary of that situation."

- NZ Herald

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