RTS getting back in his groove
One positive sign for Warriors fans to take away from the game despite the loss was the hints of a resurgent Tuivasa-Sheck. Showing glimpses of the form that won him the Dally M Fullback of the year award last year, he looked enthusiastic and actively went looking for more involvement. Playing an important role in the set up to Tuimoala Lolohea for the Warriors first try on a backline shift, RTS finished the game with 7 tackle busts and 246 run metres for a superb individual effort.
Jazz Tevaga a real Warrior
Jazz Tevaga received a late call-up to first grade after Issac Luke was ruled out the day before with a knee injury and not only did he have a solid debut he did so in particularly challenging circumstances. After bench hooker Nathaniel Roache went down with an injury seven minutes after taking the field, Tevaga was called upon to play the rest of the game and much bigger minutes than he would have been expecting. He handled the task well before he clashed heads with Jeff Robson during a tackle mid-way through the 2nd half splitting his cheek open and having to be taken off the field for a concussion test. He passed the test and was back out on the field to pick up where he left off.
It was a tough initiation into the NRL but the fight and spirit he showed to soldier on was a quality the rest of the Warriors team could learn from. There’s a lot still wrong with the Warriors but Tevaga is showing what’s going right and deserves a starting role even ahead of Luke next week.
Execution lacking for both teams
Both teams were well below their best on Sunday but in the end the Storm were just that bit better at atoning for their mistakes and pulling out a victory in the do or die moments. Much like last week the Warriors were poor at applying pressure, kicks went dead in-goal gifting their opposition a 7 tackle set and they gave away a few penalties on their goal-line but the Storm didn’t fare much better. Giving away nine penalties of their own, Cooper Cronk’s kicking game wasn’t completely on point and the ultra consistent Cameron Smith was throwing passes out of dummy half that went nowhere and hit the ground.
In the critical moments though the veterans showed their class and composure. Taking advantage of a dropped ball on halfway, the Storm made the metres they needed from the ensuing scrum and Smith fired out a trademark pass to Cronk who calmly slotted a field goal to gain a one point advantage for his team with 3 minutes to go. In a game that finished with even possession and the Warriors making 328 tackles to the Storm’s 326 it was a game of inches and the Storm know how to get out of tight spots time and again.
Warriors still looking for a complete performance
Despite their errors the Warriors were far from bad, in fact the game finished at 3 tries all with goal kicking proving to be a major difference. All of Johnson’s conversions were tough ones from the sideline but his misses put the Warriors under pressure to maintain a 2 point lead with a quarter of the game to go instead of leading by a converted try. This led to the Warriors struggling to be able to close out the game. Bodene Thompson gave away a penalty heading into the last ten minutes with his side up 14-12 giving the Storm a chance to slot an equalising penalty and he later dropped the ball on a last ditch attacking effort with Marika Koroibete pouncing on the loose ball for a game sealing try. It undid the good work he had done making 52 tackles throughout the game and even filling in briefly at hooker with Roache and Tevaga both off the field.
Captain Ryan Hoffman commented post-game that they needed to be an 80 minute team instead of a 70 minute team. It shows the Warriors have what it takes to match it with the best teams in the comp but until they put in a complete performance they’ll keep coming up short.
IN THE SHEDS
Nathaniel Roache- Roache was helped off the field with an ankle injury after only seven minutes on the field. Diagnosis unknown but it didn’t appear to be too serious in nature.
James Gavet- Gavet was placed on report for a supposed cannonball tackle in the 34th minute on Cameron Munster. It was an awkward but legal diving attempt at a low legs tackle by Gavet but Munster’s leg twisted as he fell leading to referee Henry Perenara placing it on report.
Melbourne Storm- 21
Tries: Kenny Bromwich (12m), Cameron Munster (24m), Marika Koroibete (79m)
Goals: Cameron Smith 4/4
Field Goals: Cooper Cronk (77m)
New Zealand Warriors- 14
Tries: Tuimoala Lolohea (18m), Solomone Kata (47m), Jonathan Wright (61m)
Goals: Shaun Johnson 1/3