NZME rugby league writer Dale Budge breaks down the Warriors win over the Knights last night.
The Warriors will play finals footy in 2018
Ok it isn't quite mathematically secure but the Warriors have done enough to play in the finals for the first time since 2011. If the Tigers were to lose to the Raiders in Canberra on Sunday that would almost certainly make it official. At the beginning of the season if you had been told the Warriors would have won 13 games and basically have a finals spot sewn up with three rounds remaining you would be pretty surprised. But this Warriors side has shown a real hunger this season; they've bounced back from poor performances with much better games and could yet cause some problems for those sides in the top eight come knock-out matches.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is a front-runner for the Dally M Medal
Well, we don't actually know that for certain because voting goes behind closed doors two thirds of the way through the season and who knows what individual judges decide. If he isn't he should be one of, if not the favourite for the award. His ball running has been next level, beating players at will and almost always getting by the first up tackler. He has been solid under the high ball and made some huge defensive plays this season – really improving that aspect of his game. With arguably the best fullback of all-time announcing during the week that 2018 will be his last in the NRL, the Warriors captain could be about to take over from Billy Slater as the best fullback in the game.
Old school still works in the NRL
In a week where we have heard that old school is no good [thanks Gus] Warriors utility forward Jazz Tevaga has defied that logic. The hard-working back-rower plays the game in the middle and plays like an old-style lock forward from yesteryear. He isn't the biggest or strongest player going around but he finds ways to make yardage and get over the advantage line. His hit-and-spin moves have proven effective and he constantly finds himself in a position to get an offload away or get on the end of an offload from a teammate. Coach Stephen Kearney needs to balance how he uses quite a small bench in the playoffs but Tevaga is certainly giving him the numbers he needs from a bench middle.