The Warriors' expansive attacking game meets the premiership's most dogged defence in Auckland on Saturday. Credit: Charles Knight. Copyright: NRL Photos.
The Warriors have made a living off explosive attacking play over the past month, but might well need a ‘plan B’ against the Broncos on Saturday night.
They come up against a Brisbane defence which is more frugal than a Scotsman in a casino, conceding an average of just 2.6 tries and 15.6 points per game so far in 2014.
It is the main reason they sit in fifth position heading into Round 15, with even Warriors captain Simon Mannering admitting that Brisbane’s defensive spirit has been nice to watch.
“It is enjoyable to see, they just don’t die on it,” Mannering said ahead of the clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
“From seeing a bit of footage through the week they are a team that scrambles very well and work very hard for each other.
“If they are letting in the least number of tries this year they are obviously a great defensive side and you are not going to break them very easily. It is about building that pressure first and then trying to get some points.”
As well as leaking the fewest points in the competition, the Broncos also sit in the NRL’s top five for the least line breaks conceded.
“Even if you make a break on them they tend to chase back pretty well,” Mannering said.
“They are just a team that always has a crack across the park. They commit fully offensively and defensively.”
While away games present danger for most teams, statistics show Brisbane actually defend better away from Suncorp Stadium this season.
In seven away games the Broncs have given up just 95 points, averaging out at 13.5 per match, compared with their home record of 113 points against, an average of 18.8 across six games.
Those numbers certainly present a challenge for the Warriors, given they are yet to win in 2014 on an occasion where they have scored under 16 points, and that they leak 21.9 on average themselves.
Coach Andrew McFadden remained coy when asked how his side would break the Broncos down, but believed the big-boppers would decide the outcome.
“Obviously it is going to come down to winning the forward battle, they are a real scrappy team, they compete very hard so that is certainly an area we are going to have to better them at,” he said.
“Also on the defensive side of it we have Ben Barba to deal with, there is a lot of quality in their side so we are certainly going to have to be on our game.”
Meanwhile Mannering said his side would be looking to build some mid-season momentum, with this weekend the first of three straight home games for the New Zealand side.
After going through the opening 13 weeks of the competition with nine matches outside of Auckland, Mannering acknowledged it was good to be home.
“Playing for this club you get used to the travel, but I am not going to lie and say it doesn’t take its toll,” the 201-game veteran said.
“Especially after that [Round 13] Perth trip, it was good to have the week off, and we have a few home games in a row now.
“It will be great to have those here at Mt Smart and we just have to make sure we perform like we are glad to have them back here.
“We have to take advantage of not travelling for the next month, but that doesn’t mean the games are going to come any easier. We still have to work very hard through the next few weeks.”