Warriors head back home for vital match with high flying Roosters.
We have a quality game of football on Sunday afternoon as the New Zealand Warriors and Sydney Roosters do battle at Mt Smart Stadium. The Warriors know the importance of winning this clash, after its six-point loss to Melbourne Storm saw it slip to three wins and five defeats from eight matches. The Warriors have been solid throughout 2017 but been unable to really dig in for one another and put in a complete 80-minute performance so far this season. Despite having quality players in key positions (Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson and Isaac Luke to just name a few) defensive lapses and ill-discipline in defence has cost it dearly. Head coach Stephen Kearney has had a tricky return to the land of the long white cloud but also knows that the NRL is a marathon not a sprint and a win here against the Roosters could give it the shot of confidence it needs to kick on and go on a bit of a run. In team news, the Warriors line up 1-17 as it did in last week's ANZAC Day clash with Melbourne.
The Roosters proved it belongs to be in discussion of Top four this season after grinding out a 13-12 Golden Point win over St George Illawarra on ANZAC Day. It was a dominant second half performance by the tri-colours which got it the victory led by the forward pack and a stellar effort by Mitchell Pearce. Yet again, Pearce has found form at the right time of the season and would be very surprising to see him not be picked by the NSW Blues in Sate of Origin.
The win also kept the Roosters in the top four and pushes it to an impressive 6-2 record after the first two months of the competition. What makes this even better for the Eastern Suburbs club is the fact that it hasn't been at its best during the season. Being able to record victories when you're not playing at 100% is the sign of a champion team. The short term future is again looking promising for the Roosters after last year's sub-par performance. Sydney Roosters line up 1-17 as per last week's game.
The Warriors have won the last two clashes against the tri-colours but did lose the previous three before that. The Roosters have also won two of the past three matches at Mt Smart Stadium but have won just six times in 17 visits overall.
Who to watch: The Warriors need a strong presence in defence and who else to get the job done than captain Simon Mannering. The captain has been the most consistent performer for the Warriors since his debut and holds down the middle and edge of the defence very well for the Warriors. It needs him more than ever in this clash with plenty of Roosters danger men looking to find gaps in this inconsistent Warriors defence. The leader of the pack needs to lead from the front and show by example to get the New Zealander's over the line.
The tri-colours Joey Manu has done a solid job since taking over from Latrell Mitchell in the centre's. Despite not showcasing his ability to bust tackles and pace in open play, he has been very solid defensively in one of the toughest players t defend on the field. His decision making has been very good and more of the same will lock down that side of the field and make it difficult for the Warriors to shift the ball in an attempt to find holes. Manu, could have a bright future at Bondi if these strong defensive performances continue.
My tip: Hard to go against this Roosters side that looks like it may find its best form in the weeks to come. There are a lot of chinks in this Warriors defence and I don't believe it can hold out the attacking threats of the Roosters for 80 minutes. This should be a superb game however and don't think there will be much in it. If the Warriors do win, it'll need some magic from Foran, Johnson and Tuivasa-Sheck. Roosters by 7.
1. Roger Tuivasa-sheck 2. Charnze Nicoll-klokstad 3. David Fusitua 4. Blake Ayshford 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. Simon Mannering 14. Nathaniel Roache 15. Ligi Sao 16. Sam Lisone 17. Ben Matulino 21. Bunty Afoa 22. Mafoa'aeata Hingano
1. Michael Gordon 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 4. Joseph Manu 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Luke Keary 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Dylan Napa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Aidan Guerra 14. Isaac Liu 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 19. Kane Evans 22. Connor Watson 26. Jayden Nikorima