The New Zealand Warriors and St Illawarra Dragons will go head to head on Friday at FMG Stadium Waikato. The Dragons are currently sitting fifth on the NRL ladder while the Warrior’s sit at twelfth.
Last Time Out
If loyal Warrior’s fans burning their jerseys is not symbolic enough for how the Warrior’s played on Saturday night then I don’t know what is. The Warrior’s came out strong and hardly allowed the Panthers to get their hands on the ball with 70% possession in the first half. The forwards did their job which made it easy for the team to make their way up the field and score try after try, racking up a 22 point deficit. The second half was different story as the Warriors ran out over confident and lazy. The Panthers were determined and fierce and managed to score an astounding 5 tries to close the gap and eventually over take the Warrior’s on the scoreboard and win the game. This had to be one of the worst games we have seen from the Warrior’s which left fans shaking their heads and losing all faith the team had begun to restore.
The St George Illawarra Dragons suffered their third loss in a row on Friday night to the Cronulla sharks 14-18. The Sharks made it easy for the dragons in the first 40 minutes by giving away 5 penalties, seven errors and only having a 60% completion rate but the Dragons only managed to gain a two point lead after the first half. The Sharks continued to make errors but the Dragons were unable to score despite how many opportunities they were given. The Dragon’s attack efforts were poor and although they had a 92% completion rate, majority of their sets ended with unsuccessful fifth tackle kicks.
Although the Warrior’s crashed and burned in the second half last weekend, they played exceptionally well in the first half, mainly due to how well the forwards performed which allowed their more flashy players to shine and add points to the board. The Dragon’s also showed how strong their forwards pack is in round 10, specifically from prop Paul Vaughan who made 188 metres on his own. The dragons forwards pack is questionably their strongest aspect of their game this season, but if the Warrior’s forwards can play like they did in the first half against the Panthers it will be the ultimate battle that might be the deciding factor of the game.
The Dragon’s may have lost their last three games but their standard of play has been higher than the Warrior’s. The Warrior’s squad will come out fiery and enthusiastic – with a point to prove to their fans, but as usual, the team’s inability to play the full 80 will let them down and the Dragons will capitalise off this.
Dragons by 8
New Zealand Warriors vs St George Illawarra Dragons at FMG Stadium Waikato Hamilton, 8.00pm (NZT) Friday
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c) 2. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 3. Blake Ayshford 4. David Fusitu’a 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kieran Foran 7. Shaun Johnson 8. James Gavet 9. Issac Luke 10. Jacob Lillyman 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Bunty Afoa. Interchange: 14. Nathaniel Roache 15. Sam Lisone 16. Ligi Sao 17. Ben Matulino 18. Charlie Gubb 20. Mason Lino 21. Albert Vete 22. Tuimoala Lolohea
Dragons: 1. Jason Nightingale 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Taane Milne 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Kalifa Faifai Loa 6. Kurt Mann 7. Josh McCrone 8. Russell Packer 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin. Interchange: 14. Tariq Sims 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Hame Sele 17. Jai Field 18. Matt Dufty 19. Siliva Havili 20. Luciano Leilua 21. Jacob Host