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NZ Warriors Round 8 Review: Warriors have night to forget as Storm display a masterclass

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Copyright Photo: Getty Images
After last rounds impressive win against the St George Illawarra Dragons, the Warriors made their first trip across the ditch in four weeks to face the Melbourne Storm in their annual Anzac clash.
Confidence was running high in the Warriors community after breaking the Dragons undefeated streak with many predicting that the Warriors could end their losing streak against the Storm.
However, this was not to be as the Storm played a near-perfect first half decimating the Warriors 50-10.

Well, this was not the performance that I expected to see from the Warriors, the Storm has had a rocky start to 2018, but have started to show glimpses of their old form in the past few rounds, but the beast was awoken last night.
The Storm were amazing, I think even if the Warriors had played at their best level they would not have stopped the Storm from putting on a show.
They had a smart gameplan, frequently kicking the ball behind the Warriors large wingers and used their speed advantage to continually keep the Warriors on the backfoot.
When the Warriors adjusted to combat this tactic the Storm adjusted as well, targeting the Warriors weak edge defence and breaking the line at ease.

Issac Luke's injury in the 16th minute seemed to be one injury too much for a team missing four of their usual 17, and the Warriors really missed his dummy half runs which were causing headaches for the Storm early on.
I think the absence of Tohu Harris was sorely missed and depleted the defensive capabilities of this side tenfold.
The plus side is that Tohu will return in Round 9 along with possibly Shaun Johnson, Solomone Kata and James Gavet which will help tremendously.

There isn't a lot to praise in this performance, but it wasn't all doom and gloom which leads me to my positives.

After being shellshocked in the first half, the Warriors second half was improved, and the Warriors showed some fight as they attempted to claw their way back into the match.
The lack of forward momentum (more on that in my negatives) didn't help matters, but Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was still able to make some breaks and tried to bring the Warriors back into the battle.
David Fusitu'a showed that he is always a threat to score when given the chance and his two tries kept him at the top of the NRL's try-scoring leaderboard.

Unfortunately, there were quite a few negatives to go over so I will just get into it.

That edge defence is a huge concern, as I have mentioned in previous reviews, I was concerned that the frail defensive edges would be a huge target and a quality side would take advantage, and we finally saw that happen.
The Warriors need to work on this pronto, with Gerard Beale and Blake Ayshford nearing return perhaps it is time to bring them into the centres to help bolster that defensive line.
If Stephen Kearney and co make this decision or trust that they can fix it with the current side is still to be seen.

The forwards lacked the punch they showed last week, there are some young heads in that pack, and maybe the consistency that is required for the weekly grind of NRL level football is still something that still needs work.
 There is quality in the likes of Bunty Afoa, Isaiah Papali'i and Agnatius Paasi and they will return to form sooner rather than later im sure.
James Gavet is sorely needed back into this pack and will take Albert Vete's spot as he hasn't shown enough in his two-week return to the top side to retain a place in the game day 17.

The Warriors also appeared lost on attack, admittingly the lack of go forward didn't help them, but Blake Green disappeared into the shadows at various times throughout the match, most likely due to being shellshocked at the first half performance.
Mason Lino showed fighting spirit, but it just wasn't enough this time, but they can and will improve.

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My Warrior of the game goes to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
In a poor performing side, Roger once again had a strong game, not his best by any stretch but he still made some breaks that breathed some life into the Warriors at times.
Even with the lack of metres being made by his forwards he was still able to look dangerous and will continue to be an integral part of the Warriors attack.
He is also growing as a captain each and every week, and you can see that he his talking to his side has increased so much compared to last year where he let Simon Mannering and Ryan Hoffman do most of the talking in the team huddles.
I still have confidence in this side and believe it will be a breakout year for RTS.

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My Warrior to improve goes to Blake Green.
Blake had his worse showing in a Warriors jersey and as mentioned above went missing several times in this game.
I noticed several times throughout this match that Blake would run and die with the ball on the fourth tackle when nothing was on, leaving Mason Lino to take the last tackle option when instead his experience would have been better suited in those situations.
In all the years I have watched Blake play this was an anomaly, and I am confident that he will return to the stable playmaker he has been for the Warriors in 2018.

This game was hard to watch as a fan, but for the Warriors, it is a wake-up call, the competition in the NRL is tight in 2018, and if you do not play your best every week, there is every chance you will be leaving without the win.
Round 8 was a misstep on the journey to playoff football, but it wasn't a dive of a cliff, the Warriors will come back from this, the fight they showed in the second half of this match to stop the Storm onslaught proves that.

Round 9 sees the Warriors return to Mt Smart to face the Wests Tigers.
The Tigers have been performing well this season, and with Ivan Cleary and a host of former Warriors at the helm, it is sure to be an exciting matchup.
Issac Luke is gone for up to six weeks, and I feel that the Warriors need to have a specialist hooker replace him, I like Jazz Tevaga, but I think that he is better suited as a second-row interchange.
I personally would be selecting Karl Lawton as he has been performing well in reserve grade, but there is also Sam Cook and Mania Cherrington to choose from.
The Warriors forwards are going to need to be performing at the top level to combat Russel Packer and Co, and I am predicting that the Warriors will get back into their winnings ways and will win by 10.

So that was a disappointing Round 8, and as usual, I will leave you with some questions.

Who would you bring in to replace Issac Luke?
What would you do with the Warriors centres?
Did this match prove that the Storm are the premier favourites?
What is your score prediction for Round 9?

This post first appeared on Nz Warriors 2017 Season Preview : Above The Line - The Kearney Era Begins, please read the originial post: here

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NZ Warriors Round 8 Review: Warriors have night to forget as Storm display a masterclass


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