NUMBERS GAME: WARRIORS V SHARKS STATS RECAP

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It would be a fabrication to suggest that the Warriors were not consistent. Consistent at throwing up nail-biting results, that is. After you add in the heartbreaking loss in the Cricket World Cup final last weekend and a thrilling win in the Netball World Cup, it’s fair to say it’s been a nerve-wracking few weeks for Kiwi sports fans as a whole.

Holding on for dear life against the Titans, a golden point loss to the Panthers, a grandstand finish against the Knights, a golden point draw against the Broncos, and this week’s instalment – a 75th-minute Blake Green field goal to seal a comeback victory over the Sharks.

  • 1 – The Warriors beat the Sharks for the first time in their past five games, breaking a losing streak that stretched back to May 2015.
  • 4 – The Warriors have now won four games out of four on Friday nights this season.
  • 3 – Three of their last seven games in 2019 will be played on Friday nights.

The Warriors were dealt two massive blows prior to the game with star wingers Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu’a both ruled out with injury, paving the way for young Adam Pompey to make his NRL debut.

  • 237 – Tuakau-born, 21-year-old former Roosters junior Adam Pompey became Warrior #237.

It was a homecoming of sorts for former Warriors star Shaun Johnson, and it didn’t take him long to remind the doubters of what he was capable of. After Issac Luke opened the scoring with a penalty goal, Johnson’s deft short ball sent young Kiwi back-rower Briton Nikora through untouched to put the Sharks ahead on the scoreboard.

  • 6 – This was just the sixth try-assist for Johnson this season. He averaged 15.5 per season during his time at the Warriors.

Four minutes later and it was another former Warrior rubbing salt into the wound as halfback Chad Townsend followed up and scored after Bronson Xerri somehow kept the ball alive.

  • 1 – This was Townsend’s first try against the Warriors since he returned to the Sharks in 2016.

The Sharks looked to have the ascendancy before Luke probed dangerously out of dummy-half, creating space for Green to show some serious wheels – reminiscent of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – as he streaked past Matt Moylan and touched down adjacent to the uprights.

  • 1 – Blake Green got off the mark with his first try of 2019, and the third of his career in Warriors colours.

The Warriors dominated possession throughout the first half, despite trailing on the scoreboard.

  • 27 – Staggeringly, the Warriors were tackled 27 times inside the Sharks 20-metre zone in the first half, with the Sharks not being stopped once inside the Warriors’ 20.
  • 5 – The Warriors had five back-to-back sets against the Sharks late in the first half, but could not find a breakthrough.

Close encounters have been a feature of this fixture in the past and as halftime rolled around it seemed as if history was repeating itself. The Sharks held a slender 12-8 lead.

  • 15 – This was the 15th occasion in the last 25 games against the Sharks that the Warriors have scored less than 10 points in the first half.

An early Warriors penalty goal closed the gap further before Johnson was again involved as he combined with Nikora for an all-Kiwi link play to send former Warriors NYC winger Sosaia Feki down the right side to score with a pirouette dive in the corner. The controversial try pushed the scoreline out to 18-10.

  • 3 – Sosaia Feki picked up his third try against the Warriors in his career. Strangely, all five of his games against the Warriors have been in New Zealand.

With the Warriors looking to put pressure on the Sharks goal-line defence, Kodi Nikorima took matters into his own hands as he shrugged off three defenders before out-muscling Moylan to slam the ball down next to the posts for a superb solo try. Chanel Harris-Tavita’s conversion made it a two-point ball game with 15 minutes to play.

  • 3 – Kodi Nikorima scored his third try for the Warriors this season and his fifth overall for 2019, having also scored twice for the Broncos before his mid-season switch.

Then inexplicably Andrew Fifita put a shoulder charge on decoy runner Lachlan Burr and was sent to the sin-binj – a coach-killer for the Sharks. The Warriors were rightly awarded a penalty out in front for Harris-Tavita to calmly slot over and square things up.

  • 60 – The Warriors dominated possession with 60 percent of the ball as they camped in the Sharks’ half in the final quarter, the Sharks having to make 100 tackles more than the Warriors overall.

Déjà vu for Warriors fans as old mate golden point seemed to be imminent for the third time in four weeks. But cometh the hour, cometh the man – Blake Green stepped up to slot the crucial one-pointer, a strike that could have a huge bearing on the Warriors’ finals hopes. Warriors fans will also be relieved that the field goal hoodoo has finally been broken.

  • 1 – Blake Green became the only current Warriors player to kick a field goal in their first grade career.
  • 233 – In his 13th season in top-flight rugby league, and 233rd first grade game, Green nailed just his second career field goal attempt.

The Sharks will no doubt be ruing what might have been, as they lead for 60 minutes of the game despite the Warriors having far more opportunity on attack. Now consigned to their fifth loss in a row, the Sharks’ finals hopes are looking very shaky.

  • 608 – The Warriors ran for 608 more metres than the Sharks.
  • 3 – The Warriors have now won three of their last four games in Wellington, having lost the previous five.
  • 20 – The Warriors have not scored more than 20 points in their past 12 games against the Sharks.
  • 3 – The Sharks have scored three or more tries in each of their last five games, losing all five.

 

Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was once again outstanding with the ball in hand, running nearly 130 metres more than the next best metre-eater on the field, Jazz Tevaga, who ran for 170 metres.

ATTACK:

  • 293 – After running for a new NRL record of 367 metres last week, Tuivasa-Sheck backed it up with his second-best effort of the season, 293 metres from his 25 carries.
  • 3,307 – He now leads the NRL for running metres in 2019, overtaking teammate Ken Maumalo (3,088 metres), who missed this game due to injury. Tuivasa-Sheck also leads all comers for the most runs in the NRL in 2019 with 338.
  • 125 – Kodi Nikorima also backed up impressively from last week with his second-best running effort of the season – 125 metres. Nikorima has increased his running game by 38 metres per game this season.
  • 100 – With Agnatius Paasi only playing 29 minutes it was left to his fellow forwards to pick up the slack, and they responded promisingly with Leeson Ah Mau (149 metres), Isaiah Papali’i (101), Jazz Tevaga (170) and interchange forwards Lachlan Burr (132) and Bunty Afoa (111) all running for over 100 metres.

DEFENCE:

  • 25 – Despite only playing for 29 minutes, Paasi managed to rack up an impressive 25 tackles in that time. Quite remarkable considering the Warriors’ lion share of possession.
  • 20 – And the rest of the pack ably supported him with only Sam Lisone failing to crack the 20-tackle mark.
  • 0 – For the third week in a row, and fifth game in his last six, Leeson Ah Mau failed to miss a tackle. He came up with another 27 stops this week.

Next up for the Warriors is a dangerous Parramatta Eels side, who have proven to be just as unpredictable as the Warriors. All eyes will be on whether their two flank men, Maumalo and Fusitu’a, will return as they look to keep an unlikely run towards finals football alive.

  • 2011 – With 10 games left in a season the Warriors have not improved their final ladder position since 2011, when they landed sixth and 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).
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