Warriors romp to biggest win in eight years
An almost perfect 80 minutes of league and the Warriors's biggest win in eight years.
The Warriors sent the Eels packing in sublime style with a 48-0 rout in cold, clear conditions at Mt Smart Stadium last night in a completely dominant display from the Auckland-based side - the biggest winning margin against the Eels ever.
The game, played in front of a crowd of 14,087, saw the Warriors, who now sit comfortably within the top eight, present a unique brand of football that allowed them to run rings around the Eels.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden seems determined to defy rugby league convention and it is seeing his side run a vein of form so rich the Eels had almost no answer.
McFadden said it was the best game his side had played since he had been head coach. He said the side stuck almost perfectly to the game plan.
''We took our opportunities. It was very pleasing. It was a really good team performance.''
McFadden said it was particularly pleasing the team had held the Eels' scoreless.
''Forty-eight points is one thing, but the zero was a really big thing for us.''
A pushover try from a scrum is almost unheard of in league but the Warriors, who had been practicing the move earlier in the week, pulled it off to great effect, putting fullback Sam Tomkins over for one of his team's eight tries.
McFadden said the pushover try was something the team had worked on to seize upon at the right opportunity.
''The players were the ones that called it, so they can take credit for that.''
Other facets of the game also seemed to confuse the Eels including five-eighth Chad Townsend being involved in far more tactical kicking than in previous games, forward Sebastine Ikahihifo developing a move where he spins into tackles making several metres in the process and Tomkins- probably the smallest man in the Warriors team- committing his body to the line against men twice his size.
The ease with which Tomkins played seemed to frustrate the Eels with winger Semi Radradra putting his knee into the throat of Tomkins and being put on report as a result.
The Warriors' defence has become relentless, Konrad Hurrell has become a human wrecking ball, with Eels captain Willie Tonga amongst his victims, and Shaun Johnson was running a kicking clinic - converting all eight tries.
The sides came into the game both sitting on 20 points but points differential meant the Eels were in 9th while the Warriors sat at seventh. The Eels were without influential fullback Jarryd Hayne and seemed to have no coherent attack. His replacement Chris Sandow showed small moments of brilliance but it was futile
The scoring for the Warriors started after two and a half minutes when David Fusitu'a, the 19-year-old winger who is becoming known for his spectacular diving tries, scored - his fifth try in just nine games this year. The try came after a kick from Townsend and then a shift to the right side of the park with Fusitu'a scoring close to the right hand touch line.
The Eels were good in defence initially but could not compete with the constant hammering from the Warriors. After 12 minutes Johnson put through a grubber kick and ran through to score. At this stage the Warriors were scoring at a point a minute.
Tomkins, who a few minutes earlier had been punished in a dubious looking tackle, clambered his way over in the tackle of David Gower and Semi Radradra out-muscling two men with many more kilos than him after 20 minutes.
The Eels defence seemed to give up in the 26th minute with Johnson cutting a swathe through the team to put Konrad Hurrell across- his 13th try of the season on a night when he clocked his 50th appearance for the club.
The try from the Warriors scrum made the Eels scrum look almost farcical.
Tomkins, who was in sublime form, sent captain Simon Mannering over just before half time.
The game was all but over by halftime but to their credit the Eels came out and played with intention in the second half.
Eels coach Brad Arthur said his side had tried hard in the second half but ''in the first half we didn't give ourselves any opportunities''.
Arthur said the heavy penalty count against his team at the start of the first half meant that his team was expending all their energy on defence and couldn't muster any thoughts on attack.
''That's not an excuse. But 18 sets to six . . . when you do get the ball you are gassed, your tired. We had to make nearly three times as many tackles as them.''
The Warriors play the Broncos, in Brisbane, next Saturday night. The Broncos will be smarting after the Warriors ground out a win against them at Mt Smart Stadium in round 15.
Meanwhile Warriors general manager football operations Dean Bell has scotched suggestions that Steve Matai will leave Manly and come to the Warriors.
Rumours abounded yesterday that the centre had signed with the Auckland-based club but Bell said those were not true.
Warriors 48 (David Fusitu'a, Shaun Johnson, Sam Tomkins 2, Konrad Hurrell, Simon Mannering, Ben Henry, Chad Townsend tries, Johnson 8 conversions) Eels 0. HT: 36-0.
Will the Warriors be playing finals footy this year?