Michael Burgess reviews the Warriors' thrilling win over the Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday with three things we learned from the victory.
Defensive effort for the ages
The Warriors defensive effort in their 14-13 win over the Roosters set a new standard for this club. In terms of grit, resilience and attitude, it was one of their best defensive displays this decade. The incredible match in Penrith in 2010 remains the benchmark, where the Warriors faced an 11-3 penalty count (and the Panthers forced 59 tackles to eight in the opposition 20 metre zone) but prevailed 12-6. The other stand out effort was the 2011 Preliminary final in Melbourne, where the Warriors beat the Storm in an arm wrestle on their own turf. But Sunday was noteworthy. The Warriors were their own worst enemies in regularly handing possession and initiative back to the Roosters in the second half, but showed a remarkable determination to defend their line. In an all round effort, the performances of Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Ryan Hoffman and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck caught the eye.
Game management remains a concern
If referee Ashley Klein hadn't made a brave (and rare) penalty decision, the Warriors would be reflecting on a third successive loss. That needs to be kept in perspective. Their game management, decision making and general nous under pressure remains a concern, as they slipped off the pace in the second half again, similar to what eventuated in Canberra and Melbourne. They had clear chances to extend their lead - or at least build pressure through repeat sets early in the second half, when they held a 12-4 lead. But they didn't take them, with a tackled David Fusitua's pass off the ground - rugby style - a brain fade while Shaun Johnson was also erratic with his passing. No one will question the effort, but the execution was found wanting.
Listen: Highlights - Warriors 14 Roosters 13
Youngsters aim up
Given the circumstances, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad had an impressive debut. The 21-year-old coped well with the barrage of kicks the Roosters sent his way, was positionally sound and a willing runner. He looked cool under pressure and justified coach Stephen Kearney's selection.
Fusitua was also impressive, and has improved massively over the last 12 months. He had a strong game at right centre and showed his value with a crucial try just before halftime. Fusitua also had the wherewithal to defuse the Roosters short kick off in the final minute, which sealed the Warriors victory. Circumstances have seen him playing on the wing over the last month but his future is surely in the centres as he is wasted on the flanks.