Saturday, 30 July 2016

Round 21 - Faither 5 Pre Game vs Penrith Panthers

Coming off the 2nd heart breaking golden point loss in as many weeks and the 3rd in the previous 4 matches, as a fan it's hard not to dream about what could have been. If we just got a lucky bounce of the ball or a referee decision went our way we could be heading into the Panthers game with 7 wins on the trot, leaving us sitting comfortably in 6th position with a real chance of cracking the top 4.

Unfortunately that's not the way that things have unfolded and we now face a tricky assignment against a Panthers side looking to put breathing space between themselves in 8th spot and the rest of the chasing pack. This weekends match could well make or break our season, a loss leaves us 4 points adrift of the top 8 while a win by 5+ would allow us to leapfrog the Panthers and reclaim 8th position, which should remain ours until the conclusion of the round. (Barring a West Tigers miracle where they win by 70 odd.)

Round 21 is no longer just a regular season clash for the Warriors, it's now officially finals footy time, where anything but a victory could all but cut short another season filled with so much hope and optimism only to leave fans with that familiar feeling of disappointment as we limp toward seasons end. 

While it's certainly not all doom and gloom just yet, i challenge you to find a fan that doesn't have the awful sinking feeling in their stomach telling them that 2016 is shaping up to tell us a oh-so familiar tale that has been told many times in seasons past.

It would be safe to say that the 2016 season looks to be far more promising than those we have experienced in recent memory, even though the ladder does it's best to tell us otherwise. 

We must use the home crowd to our advantage and i encourage any of you who read this to get to the game if possible and ensure to go with the sole intention of leaving without a voice. These are the games that can be won by the atmosphere created by the crowd and this is one game that the players will be relying on the crowd to provide that extra motivation. In a game with so much on the line, those in attendance must ensure that the Mt Smart Faithful walk-away with the Man of the Match award. 

As kick off slowly approaches and the nerves begin to set in, let's have a look at 5 talking points for the Warriors as they prepare to enter the most important game of the 2016 season.

1. The 4 Point Game:  As mentioned earlier, this clash at home against the Panthers is a must win. It is imperative that the Warriors get out of the blocks quickly and don't start the game with that "sluggishness" we're becoming accustomed to that seems to bring with it early penalties and errors that creep into our game. This must be avoided. Penrith will be looking at this as a must win game as well, it's essentially a 4 point game for the lads from the foot of the mountains. While there is still time in the season to reel in 4 points, the task would be difficult with games running out as the regular season draws to an end.

2. Cappy Gives the Fans What They Want:  After bizarrely leaving Lolohea on the bench until extra time against the Sea Eagles and then starting him from the bench against the Raiders last weekend, Cappy seems to finally agree with what the majority of fans have been suggesting by starting him at #1. Whether Fusi or Tui are the better option at FB is a discussion for another day, the important thing is that Lolo is starting.

3. The Benching of Ayshford:  Just when you think we're getting somewhere with selections, Cappy goes and throws another spanner into the works. Word from the sheds is that Ayshford has been struggling with a back injury in recent weeks which has been part of the reason we have seen his form dip slightly. With that being said, if his benching is due to an injury that's clearly affecting his ability to perform at a high level then questions must be asked why persist on selecting him? Does a fully fit player in his place last week make the 2 tackles that were missed by Blake that led to tries? If a player isn't fit enough to be selected in the starting team then don't pick them. It's really simple stuff.

4. Tommy in Vintage Form:  2016 started off a little slow for Tommy as he worked his way back from a serious knee injury and in true Warriors Fans style he was the subject of some pretty heavy criticism. He may not feature prominently in the highlight reels but the work he does within the team is right up there with the best in his position. While he might not get the accolades that others in his position receive, there isn't a bloke i would rather wearing the #6 jersey more than this bloke. Over the last month or so he has been playing the house down and we'll need him to keep that going if we are any hope of seeing anything more than just regular season footy this year.

5. Lightweight on the Bench:  The Panthers head into this game with a monster forward pack and they've got more of where that comes from on the bench. With 2x props, 1x second rower and a utility weighing in at a combined 410kg's, they have the upper hand in that department. The Warriors on the other hand are running with 1x Utility, 2x Props and 1x Back on the bench combining for 390kg's. While it might not be the huge 40kg difference they gave up last week it is still significant. I cannot get my head around the selection of Jazz as well as a back on the bench, it just makes no sense to me. Not the first time this season the Warriors pack will be required to get through more work than their opposition. It makes you start to wonder, will we see our pack run out of steam due to the extra workload being demanded of them before the season is complete? Only time will tell. 

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Faither: "It's not just a slogan, it's a movement"


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