NUMBERS GAME: TITANS V WARRIORS STATS PREVIEW

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The 13th-placed Warriors take on the second-last Titans this Friday night at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.

  • 600 – This will be the Warriors 600th game since entering the Australian competition back in 1995. They’ve won 274, drawn seven and lost 318 times.

The game also marks a milestone occasion for veteran forward Adam Blair, who joins a very select group of New Zealanders to have played 300 first-grade games.

  • 300 – Adam Blair will become just the third New Zealander to play 300 games in the Australian premiership after Ruben Wiki (311 games) and Simon Mannering (301 games).
  • 5 – Blair also becomes the fifth NRL player to bring up the 300-game milestone whilst playing for the Warriors, after Wiki (2008), Steve Price (2009), Ryan Hoffman (2017) and Mannering (2018).

The Warriors can beat anybody on their day – but when that day may be is anybody’s guess at the moment. Sitting only two points outside the Top 8, this looms as a real bogey game for the Warriors. Their form this season has been inconsistent at best. And whilst it is not life or death yet, it is imperative that they get back to winning ways before they face the whole month of July on the road.

Home form has not been the Warriors’ strong point this season, losing their last four games at Mt Smart Stadium. However, back-to-back wins in Australia in Rounds 9 and 10 will give them some confidence that they can turn this slump around. The Warriors always pull a solid expat Kiwi crowd in South East Queensland, and Cbus Super Stadium traditionally provides something of a hometown feel. Hopefully that does not translate to their current home form.

  • 4 – Going into this game the only four sides that the Warriors have beaten this season are the three teams parked below them on the competition ladder – the Bulldogs, Titans and Panthers – along with the 10th-placed Dragons, who moved above them with a convincing win last weekend over wooden spoon favourites the Bulldogs.
  • 10 – The Warriors have won just 10 of their 28 games in Australia under Stephen Kearney since he took over in 2017.

Equal with the Warriors on just four wins, the Titans’ recent form somewhat belies their table position. Away upsets of the Sea Eagles and the Broncos in the past three weeks shows what they are capable of when they can put it together. They have the same consistency problems as the Warriors: Dreadful one week, a good performance the next.

The Titans should not be taken lightly. But the temptation will be there for the Warriors, as the Titans are their most favoured opponent in the club’s history.

  • 68% – The Warriors have won 17 of the 25 games they have played against the Titans – a 68% winning percentage, their highest against any other current NRL club.
  • 66% – Also the Warriors’ highest away winning percentage, having won eight of their 12 clashes on the Gold Coast.

The recent history of this fixture will give Warriors fans some hope after what has been a dismal past few weeks. It has been virtually one-way traffic against the Titans since 2011 with the Warriors stringing together an unprecedented number of wins as a club.

  • 15 – The Warriors have won 15 of their last 17 games against the Titans.
  • 2 – The Warriors have only lost two games against the Titans since 2011 – at home in 2015 and away last season. The Warriors led at halftime in both games.

It’s been a huge turnaround in the rivalry for the Warriors, having previously lost six straight games against the Titans under Ivan Cleary from 2008-2010.

THE RIVALRY: WARRIORS V TITANS

Scoring points has been an issue for Stephen Kearney’s men this season. After starting the season brightly, scoring 40 points in their first game, they have now scored 12 or less points on six occasions.

  • 40 – The Warriors have scored just 40 points in their last four home games combined.
  • 12 – The Warriors have scored just 12 points in their last 160 minutes of football.
  • 32 – Ken Maumalo is the Warriors’ leading point-scorer this season. They are the only side in the NRL whose leading scorer is not a recognised goalkicker.

Against the Titans, however, history shows they are fully aware of where the tryline is.

  • 1 – On only one occasion have the Warriors scored less than 20 points against the Titans since 2011 – a 36-12 loss in 2018.
  • 18 – The Warriors have scored double digits before halftime in 18 of their past 20 encounters against the Titans going back to 2010.

Defensively, the Warriors have been pretty sound in the first half of games this season.

  • 7 – On seven occasions in 12 games this season the Warriors have kept the opposition to a single-figure score in the first half.
  • 3 – On three occasions they have kept the opposition scoreless heading into the break.
  • 4 – The Warriors have held the Titans to single-digit scores in the first half of their past four encounters.

But putting in a full 80-minute performance is proving to be an issue. The missing leadership and sheer guts of a Simon Mannering-type player is clearly being felt. Someone who was willing to put their body on the line and do the dirty work week-in, week-out.

  • 18 – Contrary to their sound first-half defensive efforts, four of the Warriors’ eight losses this season have been by 18 points or more.
  • 0 – For the past two games in a row – and three times this season – the Warriors failed to score a point in the second half.

TWL RD 14 PREVIEW: TITANS V WARRIORS

Two players in reasonable form come back into the Warriors side this week from injury, standout rookie centre Patrick Herbert and impact utility Jazz Tevaga. Kearney has resisted making wholesale changes again this week, largely sticking with a squad who are yet to prove they are a genuine footy side. However, a lingering gastro illness in the squad may force his hand, with Blake Green, Issac Luke and Karl Lawton in doubt.

The Warriors forwards have to step up this week and will go up against an underrated Titans engine-room who showed last week against the Broncos how dominant they can be through the middle.

  • 2 – Only two of the Warriors’ starting forward pack are averaging over 100 run metres per game this season: Leeson Ah Mau (101 metres) and Tohu Harris (110 metres). Meanwhile, Titans forwards Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow are both averaging over 150 metres per game.

The Titans wing pairing of Anthony Don and Dale Copley have scored 16 tries between them this season, but both are vulnerable down the flanks which the Warriors must look to expose.

  • 6 – At least one of Anthony Don or Dale Copley have scored in the Titans’ last six games against the Warriors.

Warriors winger Ken Maumalo has been in career-best form in all facets of his game this season. Fellow wingman David Fusitu’a, slowly making his way back into form, will hopefully have had a shot of confidence from his naming in Tonga’s Test side this week. The Warriors have to get him involved again somehow and sending some aerial traffic down that right side seems like a good place to start.

  • 8 – David Fustitu’a has scored eight tries from nine appearances against the Titans.
  • 8 – Ken Maumalo has scored a team-high eight tries from 12 games this season, beating his previous career-best season tally of seven (from 23 games) in 2017.

A win won’t propel the Warriors back into the Top 8 just yet, but it will be a good start to hopefully getting the season back on track.

  • 8 – The Warriors spent all 24 rounds in the Top 8 last season, compared with just two rounds this season so far (Rounds 1 and 2).
  • 4 – The Warriors’ tally of four wins is equal to the club’s worst return after 12 games post-1999.

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