Saturday, 23 July 2016

Round 20 - Faither 5 Pre Game vs Canberra Raiders

The Warriors went 17 years without a victory against the Raiders in Canberra. Coincidentally, it was a team coached by a man that cops plenty of criticism by fans that guided them to a drought breaking victory in his 14th  game as an NRL head coach. 2014 proved to be a fruitful year for the Warriors playing against the Raiders with the club managing to score a combined total of 108 points while only conceding 30 in the process. Since breaking the Canberra hoodoo the Warriors have now won 2 games on the trot in the nations capital and look to make it a trifecta as they head into this Round 20 fixture.

The last time these two sides met was Round 11, 2016 where the Warriors took their home game to Taranaki. The expectations on the club to put forth a strong showing fell short with the home side showing little fight and going down to the Raiders, 38-12.

For the Warriors to come away with a 3rd straight win against the Raiders away from home they'll need to ensure that the standards they have set over the past month and a half are not only met but likely exceeded. Let's have a look at the 5 key areas that will decide who will come away with the win.

1. Bench Selection 

With the recent rain in Canberra it would have no doubt left the field in a state which can be very demanding on players and suck plenty of juice out of the legs. With a game being played last night it will be interesting to see if the field has being able to hold up or whether it has been torn to shreds. The Warriors forwards will have to rely on their reserve tanks in this game with Ricky Stuart opting to go with 4 big blokes on the bench. With the conditions being the way they are and playing on a soggy field the Raiders have the upper hand here and will be able to utilize their bench more effectively by giving their big men more of a rest than their opposition. The Warriors give up 37 kg's just in bench selection alone so blokes like Lillyman and Matulino will have to stand up and set the tone for what could be a very difficult afternoon for the Warriors big men.

2.  The Beast

Manu Vatuvei has been far from his best in 2017 and it's time for "The Beast" to stand up and find the sort of form that has allowed him to become one of the greatest try scorers in league history. At times this season he has been guilty of being far too relaxed when going about his work and to be honest there have been times when a ball has been kicked in behind him and i have seen milk turn quicker than what the big fella is capable of when turning to retrieve a kick. A lack of urgency seems to have creeped into his game and younger and hungrier wingers from opposition teams continue to get the upper hand on Manu as shown by a bloke on DEBUT who easily contained The Beast in last weeks game against Manly. If the giant winger doesn't show an increase in urgency today, Rapana will make him look like a school boy.

3. Organisation 

There were moments in the game against Manly last weekend where you wondered who was calling the shots on the field. It's crucial that the side listens to the instructions they are being given by the chief play makers in the side. When a prop forward is getting into 1st receiver and passing to Shaun Johnson on the last with the scores locked up, the clock winding down and in perfect field goal position, questions must be asked. To make matters worse, nothing was done to remove Lisone from being the 1st receiver for the 2nd time in as many tackles, allowing him to try and be the hero by taking a snap at field goal only to have a massive air swing in the process. There were also numerous occasions where the Warriors had the Manly side on the ropes down the left hand side, with Tommy SCREAMING for the ball only to see the Warriors decide to head to their right leaving Leuluai standing with his arms in the air shaking his head in disbelief as his calls for the ball were again ignored once again.

4. Minimizing Errors

An area in the Warriors game that leaves me scratching my head season after season. It's not just the fact that the errors are being made as that is just a part of footy. It's the stupidity leading up to the error that is dumbfounding. Throwing offloads with 4 defenders hanging off the tackled player, lazy play the balls accompanied by poor handling, penalties on the last tackle, loose carries in our own 20m line and the list goes on. We seem to make more "lazy" errors than any other team in the comp and if we could minimize those by half it would go along way to not putting us under so much constant pressure while using up energy defending our own line in the process.

5. Staying Switched On

If you look at the ladder and take note of the Warriors "points against" column it would suggest that they are terrible in defense while in reality they are actually fairly solid when defending. They often scramble well and manage to repel teams who are often camped on their line on the back of a Warriors error. What lets them down is, they do all this fantastic work defending set after set and then out of nowhere they let in a contender for "softest try of the season". It doesn't seem to be very often that teams really need to work for a try as the Warriors must be the Kings when it comes to letting in the softest tries in the NRL.


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