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The Storylines: What Anzac Day debacle? The Warriors put their hiding at the hands of the Storm in the rearview-mirror with a gritty, compreshensive 26-4 rout of Wests Tigers last Saturday.

There were flashes of brilliance, but it was the return of the Warriors’ intensity and composure on both sides of the ball that underpinned an important result. Shaun Johnson was outstanding in his return from a two-game absence but he’s on the sidelines again after picking up a late ankle injury.

In a nice piece of symmetry, Mason Lino steps into the breach for the fourth time this season against the team he helped dismantle for the first NRL win of his career in Round 4.

The heavyweight Sydney Roosters will still be bristling from that 30-6 drubbing at home by the upstart Warriors, but they have struggled to build any momentum since, going win-loss-win-loss for seven straight weeks.

The Tricolours outlasted Manly 22-20 last Sunday, but it was hardly convincing.

A stack of Roosters – Keary, Ferguson, Mitchell, Napa – are striving for their Origin spots, while near-automatic Blues picks Tedesco and Cordner are searching for a form spike ahead of the looming series opener.

Waerea-Hargreaves and Liu will also be primed for a big game against a host of Kiwis contenders in the Warriors pack with new Test coach Michael Maguire on hand.

Issac Luke is racing the clock to make his second miraculous recovery in a week, this time from a dislocated shoulder, and he’ll be hell-bent on playing in Indigenous Round with Maori culture fully integrated into the annual weekend for the first time.

The Warriors – currently in outright second – can really consolidate a top-four spot with their eighth win of the season, while the 5-4 Roosters are looking to break away from a six-team logjam tied for fifth.

The History: Played 39 – Warriors won 22, Roosters won 16, draws 1.


The Stats

-The Warriors have won four straight against the Roosters.
-Five of the teams’ last six encounters in Auckland were decided by four points or less.
-The Warriors are 4-1 at Mount Smart this season.
-The Roosters have won just three of their last 16 games out of Sydney.
-The Warriors are ranked sixth in the NRL for points scored and points conceded; the Roosters are ninth and third respectively.
-The Warriors have kept three opponents to eight points or less in 2018; the Roosters have scored eight on less on four occasions this season.

3 Key Match-ups

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck v James Tedesco: RTS has been the most impressive fullback in the league by quite a margin in 2018, the captaincy this year elevating his performances to an unprecedented plane. ‘Teddy’ has been patchy and underwhelming – certainly less consistent than during his time at the Tigers, which is a major concern for NSW with Origin just around the corner. Both are premier game-breakers, but I know who I’d rather have in my side…and who Roosters fans are probably secretly pining for.

Peta Hiku v Latrell Mitchell: Hiku has been silky on attack and combines beautifully as a link man in the Warriors’ super-dangerous right side. On defence, he’s been a turnstile. That’s a big danger with Latrell Mitchell coming to town and looking to lock down a Blues debut. The 20-year-old scored in the third minute for the Roosters’ only try against the Warriors in Round 4 and the visitors will no doubt be looking to target Hiku’s corridor.

Tohu Harris v Boyd Cordner: Both champion second-rowers, but Harris has been just about the best in the position in the comp while Cordner has been comparatively flat. Harris is the everywhere man, bobbing up with a slick pass or damaging run on attack, and shutting down dangerous situations and maintaining a high work-rate on defence. Cordner has seemed oddly one-dimensional in 2018 and, as the Blues’ skipper-elect, needs to lift his game pronto for his club’s and state’s sake.

Last Time They Met: Mason Lino produced one of the great stand-in performances in Round 4 this year, replacing an injured Shaun Johnson and inspiring the Warriors to a 30-6 rout of the highly-fancied Roosters at Allianz Stadium.

Why We’ll Win: Sure, there’s been a couple of substandard showings in the past month but the Warriors are one of the NRL’s form teams. Teams are still struggling to figure out a counter to their high-intensity, relentless style. They’ll keep it even simpler than usual with Lino coming in for Johnson and look to produce a duplicate of their suffocating performance against the Roosters in March.

Why We’ll Lose: The Warriors, for arguably the first time in the club’s history, are a genuine 80-minute team. But the times they’ve played well only in patches – against the Broncos and Storm – they’ve lost comfortably. It’s a hard style to replicate week after week, and the squad has endured its share of injury problems. The Roosters have the big-time players to capitalise if Warriors turn up anything less than 100 percent switched on.

The Punt: NZ TAB Odds – Head to Head: Warriors $1.70, Roosters $2.05 (Line: Warriors -2.5).

Interstate underdogs of 3.5 or less are 66-32 against the line since 2013. The Roosters have covered 7 of their last 9 as an interstate underdog. The Roosters have covered 19 of their last 32 after scoring 20-plus points. The Warriors have covered 9 of their last 13 at Mt Smart. FULL TAB PREVIEW

Tips – Warriors -2.5 @ $1.92
-Warriors 12 & Under @ $2.80
-Over 35.5 @ $1.87
-First Try Scorer – Solomone Kata @ $15
-To Score a Try – Tohu Harris $4.50


The Verdict: You’ve gotta trust their form – the Warriors were superb against the Tigers last week and a repeat performance should carry them to another victory over a Roosters side that has lost their trademark tough edge. Issac Luke’s fitness could have a major bearing on the result but Karl Lawton proved in 20 minutes last week he’d be a worthy replacement, while there’s no qualms about Mason Lino steering the ship. Desperation and effort will decide this one, and the Warriors have it all over the Roosters in both department in 2018. Warriors by 10


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