David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Warriors side unchanged for Bunnies clash

Hooker Jazz Tevaga will make his fifth start for the Warriors on Saturday. Photo / Getty
Hooker Jazz Tevaga will make his fifth start for the Warriors on Saturday. Photo / Getty

The Warriors are wary of taking their foot off the pedal and will continue their drive towards the NRL finals with an unchanged line-up for Saturday's clash against South Sydney at Mt Smart Stadium.

Jazz Tevaga will again start at hooker in the absence of the injured Issac Luke with Nathaniel Roache set to come off the bench to share the dummyhalf duties as he did in Saturday's thrilling 24-14 win over the Gold Coast.

The 20-year-old rookies had 40 minutes each against the Titans, making a combined total of 59 tackles, and offer contrasting skills with Tevaga defensively strong while Roache provides creativity and speed to the attack.

"We defended really well as a team against the Titans and those guys definitely contributed at a high level," said coach Andrew McFadden.

"We had a lot of confidence going into the game that they could do the job.

"It was a little different to the way we've been playing but it's great that we can call on anyone and they go out there and do it."

Luke had surgery on Monday after suffering a slight meniscus tear in his right knee in the dying stages of the round 21 win over Penrith and McFadden is hopeful of having him back for the final round home clash against Parramatta on September 4.

"He's had minimum side effects from the operation," he said.

"It was all clean. They got in and got out pretty quickly so we're very hopeful that it will be a short recovery."

The rest of the starting side is the same that took the field against the Panthers and Titans as the Warriors hunt a third straight win to retain their position inside the top eight.

After leapfrogging the Titans to occupy seventh spot on the NRL ladder they are now one of three teams on 24 points just two behind sixth-placed Brisbane.

Monday's 38-18 victory over the Sydney Roosters saw Penrith claim seventh on points for and against (+3) with the Warriors eighth (-7) and Wests Tigers ninth (-47) while Gold Coast is 10th on 23.

The struggling Rabbitohs will arrive on the back of nine straight defeats but the Warriors remains wary of the 2014 premiers with the likes of captain Greg Inglis, halfback Adam Reynolds and front-rower Sam Burgess all capable of inspiring an upset.

With just four rounds remaining the Warriors have their fate in their own hands and McFadden admits every result is crucial.

"We know what's at stake," he said.

"There is a bit to lose now because we've put ourselves in a great position but we've just got to carry on the way we have been.

"They've still got a lot of class in their side so that's certainly a bit of a warning sign for us that they're not going to go down lightly.

"They're going to make sure that they come and compete really hard with us and they've got the quality to do some damage."

A sloppy finish saw the Warriors hand the Titans some late attacking chances and McFadden wants his side to be more clinical this weekend.

"It would be nice to get more points and get it wrapped up a little earlier but we're competing for 80 minutes."

Warriors v South Sydney Rabbitohs at Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday, 7.30pm

Warriors: 1. Tui Lolohea, 2. Ken Maumalo, 3. David Fusitu'a, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Thomas Leuluai, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Jacob Lillyman, 9. Jazz Tevaga, 10. Albert Vete, 11. Bodene Thompson, 12. Ryan Hoffman (c), 13. Simon Mannering.

Interchange: 14. Nathaniel Roache, 15. Sam Lisone, 16. Ben Matulino, 17. Blake Ayshford, 18. Bunty Afoa.

- NZ Herald

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