Warriors with plenty to play for against Roosters
Expect some fast play as the Warriors face up to the Roosters, in one of their most important games of the season, writes SARAH HARVEY.
The Warriors have every reason to feel nervous as their season goes on the line against one of the most formidable teams in the NRL tomorrow afternoon.
The Warriors need to win two of their last three games to secure a spot in the top eight and, having lost to the Knights last weekend, the match against the Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium, in Auckland, suddenly becomes do or die.
The Auckland-based side will be helped by what is expected to be a large crowd with 15,000 tickets sold by yesterday afternoon and have been bolstered by the return of their attacking gun in Konrad Hurrell.
Hurrell, who has become one of the Warriors biggest assets, returns from a hamstring injury to reform his formidable centres pairing with Ngani Laumape, a duo that has every right to be feared by the opposition.
The biggest fear factor for the Warriors comes in the form of Kiwi Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and if the big front rower can control his discipline he will be hard to stop.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said he was expecting a tough, physical battle and had bolstered his forward pack with Ben Matulino shifting from the second row to prop, Ben Henry returning from the centres and Sebastine Ikahihifo back at loose forward after a week off.
''We brought Ben Matulino back into the front row [because] we identified that we probably didn't bend the line as much as we should have in the middle [against the Knights] and Ben certainly gives us that.''
Matulino said the Warriors would have to improve their control of the tackle with both the Knights and the Sharks taking advantage with numerous offloads.
''That is a thing we have got to tweak. If we get the Roosters pack doing that against us we will get blown off the park.''
He also realised the threat Waerea-Hargreaves posed.
''Over the past couple of years it's always been a massive battle with the forwards and Jared has always led the way for them. If we have got any chance of stopping them we have got to stop him.''
But, it's not just Waerea-Hargreaves that represents a threat to the Warriors.
The Roosters have a cast of internationals and State of Origin players including Kiwis Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Moa and Frank Paul-Nuuausala alongside Origin players in Michael Jennings, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Boyd Cordner and Aidan Guerra.
They also have the form. While both sides have won three of the last five encounters, the Warriors are in danger of dropping off at the end of the season while the Roosters come off the back of a thrashing of the Tigers.
Both sides have dynamic halves and athletic wingers and given the fine conditions expected for the afternoon match you can expect some exciting running football.
Matulino said his side needed to win tomorrow, or face the prospect of relying on other results to go their way to stay in the eight.
''Come the last couple of games of the season we don't want to be relying on results from other teams so that we can get in. For us it's just win every week and it will take care of itself.''
AT A GLANCE
Warriors v Roosters
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Sky Sport 2: 2pm tomorrow
Referees: Shayne Hayne and Dave Munro
TAB odds: Roosters $1.80 Warriors $1.95
Warriors: Sam Tomkins, David Fusitu'a, Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Thomas Leuluai, Ben Matulino, Ben Henry, Simon Mannering (c), Sebastine Ikahihifo. Interchange: Feleti Mateo, Suaia Matagi, Sione Lousi, Nathan Friend, Jayson Bukuya, Sam Rapira, Dominique Peyroux. Coach: Andrew McFadden.
Roosters: Anthony Minichiello (c), Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Mitchell Aubusson, Sam Moa, Boyd Cordner, Aidan Guerra, Frank-Paul Nu'uausala. Interchange: Remi Casty, Isaac Liu, Dylan Napa, Kane Evans, Jackson Hastings. Coach: Trent Robinson.