Pre-bye win boosts Warriors' confidence
There aren’t many better ways to go into a bye round than off the back of a victory over a team at the top end of the NRL ladder.
Following a 30-20 victory over the Penrith Panthers on Sunday afternoon, Warriors coach Andrew McFadden was pleased his players could enjoy a week off without the burden of a last-up defeat weighing on their minds.
“We are really happy with the win, it is pretty important going in to the bye,” McFadden said following his side’s win which saw them outscore the Panthers three tries to one in the second half.
“We go into the bye now and get a good break, the players really need it and it certainly gives us some momentum to project off.
“We are keeping ourselves in there and giving ourselves a chance.”
In their last pre-bye match, in Round 13, the Warriors surrendered a halftime lead to go down 34-18 to the Rabbitohs in Perth, which several of the playing group admitted was a stumbling block in their quest to build mid-season momentum.
This time around the New Zealanders go into the rest week full of confidence and belief, after running down the Panthers, who had been on a five-game winning streak going into the match.
“It was a tough game, they are a really good side Penrith, an awkward style to play,” McFadden said.
“We have been really competing for the full 80 for the majority of the time [this season].
“We had that one little blip against Souths, but aside from that we have been working really hard for each other.”
While pleasing, the game wasn’t always pretty.
The Warriors wasted a dominant opening 20 minutes in which they led 12-0 early to trail 16-12 at the break, and produced a whopping 38 missed tackles in total.
“We certainly addressed that at halftime,” McFadden said.
“We were travelling really well but it was just that we put ourselves under pressure for no real reason.
“It is something we need to learn from but you don’t have a perfect game all the time and we are finding a way to win which is pleasing.”
Captain Simon Mannering took the blame for the momentum shift which saw Penrith score 16 points in the last 12 minutes of the first stanza.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, we got off to a great start but they were always going to put us under pressure at some stage,” Mannering said.
“I put my hand up for that, I started that momentum swing with a poor error and they came right back at us and put us under a lot of pressure.
“We came out at halftime and addressed that and got back on our own game. I think it shows that when we do that it tends to work.”
Meanwhile, despite having Nathan Friend and Jayson Bukuya leave the field with head knocks, and Ben Henry complaining of knee pain, McFadden didn’t believe the injury concerns were too serious at this stage.