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A familiar face awaits the Warriors as they travel to Westpac Stadium to take on the Sharks this Friday night.

  • 3 – The Warriors have won three games out of three on Friday nights this season.
  • 4 – Including this game, four of their last eight games in 2019 will be played on Friday nights.

All eyes will be on the mercurial former Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson who will be returning to New Zealand shores for only the second time since his acrimonious departure from the club late last year. He previously enjoyed a successful visit home with the Kiwis back in May.

  • This will be the 39th fixture between these two sides. The Warriors have won on 16 occasions, whilst the Sharks have been the victors 22 times.
  • 31% – Playing against the Sharks away from home hasn’t been overly successful however, with the Warriors possessing just a 31% win-rate having won only six of their 19 games.

Neutral venues haven’t exactly been a happy hunting ground for Warriors sides in the past either, nor have their recent games against the Sharks – so this bodes as an ominous one, in what is a must win game for both teams.

  • 2016 – This will be the Warriors first game in Wellington since 2016.
  • 2 – The Warriors have won only two of their 10 games they have played at Westpac Stadium, drawing once. But their two wins at the venue have come in their last three outings there. Having previously lost the five games prior.
  • 2 – The Warriors have won only two of their last 11 games against the Sharks going back to 2012.

But this incarnation will be getting the Sharks at a good time, with the Cronulla based side having lost their previous four games on the trot and recently besieged by injuries.

  • 16 – The Sharks are averaging just 16 points per game in 2019, the fourth lowest in the NRL.
  • 3 – The Sharks have scored three or more tries in each of their last four games, despite losing all four.

The signs were certainly there last week that the Warriors are up for it and want to challenge for the playoffs. If you take out the heavy loss against the Storm the Warriors haven’t been running too bad in comparison to some over the past eight weeks, running the Broncos (twice) and the Panthers close.

  • 4 – The Warriors have won four of their last eight games, losing by six points against the Broncos, by one point to the Panthers, and a draw against the Broncos second time around.

History shows that this fixture has always been a tight one, and the Sharks are renowned for their ability to grind out a tough, close encounter.

  • 20 – The Warriors have not scored more than 20 points in their past 11 fixtures against the Sharks.
  • 1 – Only one of the previous six games in this fixture has been decided by more than four points.
  • 2 – The Sharks have lost three of their last four games by no less than two points. Goal kicking misses proving vital.
  • 0 – Neither of the Warriors wingers, Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu’a, have ever scored a try against the Sharks.

Yet again though it could be a case of too little too late for the Warriors with a mountain of work still to be done, they would have to run close to a club record winning streak to play finals football.

  • 28 – If the predicted 28 points proves to be the cut-off to make the finals, the Warriors need to win seven of their last eight games.
  • 8 – The Warriors biggest winning streak in their history is eight wins in a row, in 2002, prior to this they won six straight in 1995.

However the Warriors run-ins to the finals since 2010 don’t make for pretty reading.

  • 2011 – With 10 games left in a season the Warriors have not improved their final ladder position since 2011, when they finished runners up in the Grand Final to Manly.
  • 2 – Since 2010 on only two occasions have they won seven of their final 10 games (2010 and 2011).

They’ve gotten themselves into this position but are desperately trying to get themselves out of it, with some outstanding individual performances last week proving they are still a chance.

  • 367 – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck set a new NRL record for the most metres run in an NRL game since this metric was first recorded in 1999, running for an incredible 367 metres.
  • 200+ – Tuivasa-Sheck (367 metres), Peta Hiku (242), Ken Maumalo (258) and Kodi Nikorima (201) all ran for over 200 metres. Honourable mention must go to Adam Blair and Jazz Tevaga, who both ran over 180 metres each. Hiku, Nikorima, Blair and Tevaga all posted season-best numbers in this department.
  • 0 – For the fourth time in his past five games, Leeson Ah Mau did not missed a tackle. He has now made 140 tackles and missed just one in that time. Impressively, he has had a 100-percent tackle efficiency in eight of his 16 games this season.

Fresh from signing on with the club for another two years this week, Jazz Tevaga, the 2018 Dally M Interchange Player of the Year will bring up his 50th appearance for the Warriors this weekend.

  • 72 – Jazz Tevaga put in a mammoth effort with an outstanding 72 tackles. This was the second most for a Warriors player since this metric was first recorded and the sixth most of all time in the NRL era. Former Warriors captain Micheal Luck leads the way for both the Warriors and the NRL with his extraordinary 78-tackle effort against the Storm in 2009. Tevaga’s tally ranks inside the top 10 in NRL history.

But the Sharks will be circling; the mercurial and much maligned Johnson will be fizzing to prove a point to both Warriors fans and management that they let go of a prized talent. Often criticized in some circles as the reason the Warriors weren’t kicking on in the past, the drums have similarly started beating in the Shire following some lacklustre performances of late. His battle with his replacement Kodi Nikorima will be intriguing to say the least.

  • 10 – Johnson was involved in five wins from his final 10 games as a Warrior, whilst he has only tasted success in 3 of his first 10 games as a Shark.
  • 5 – Johnson has made only five try assists this season. He averaged 15.5 per season for the Warriors.
  • 38 – Nikorima has upped his running metres by 38 metres per game this season, including a huge 201 metres last week.

Woeful in the first 40 against the Knights, scintillating in the second 40. With a much-improved version of that against the Broncos last week, optimism will be high.

If the Warriors can rid themselves of their game of two halves habit this season and string together an 80-minute performance the sky is the limit.

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