Bulldogs v Warriors: Five key points
The Warriors strung together arguably their best performance of the year to beat the Bulldogs 24-20 in an 'away' clash at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday night. Here are five key points from the Round 7 clash.
Second-half effort gets Warriors home
After trailing 14-8 at half-time the Warriors put together a strong showing in the second 40 minutes to get over the line.
The Kiwi side scored three tries while only conceding one in the second stanza, as well as giving away just one penalty.
Captain Ryan Hoffman said it came down to replicating their first-half effort with some better defence.
"I thought we played really well that first half, we just clocked off a bit at the end, so we went into the second half with our heads held up," Hoffman said.
"Obviously we would have liked not to concede those tries before half-time, but we have confidence in our defence, we know we are a good defensive team and we showed that with that second-half effort."
Lolohea's versatility shines through
With Roger Tuivasa-Sheck unable to take part in the game past the 15th minute due to a knee injury, Tuimoala Lolohea was called up to fill the void at fullback and did so with aplomb.
After starting the year on the wing, Lolohea was this week shifted into five-eighth, but was the logical option to move to fullback once 'RTS' went down.
In a testament to his versatility the 21-year-old adapted to score a crucial try on 50 minutes and run for a total of 156 metres, including two line breaks.
Lolohea had high involvement from the back and also set up a try in the win.
"I thought we handled it really well," McFadden said of the change at fullback.
"Not sure yet [how serious Tuivasa-Sheck's injury is], we will have to get some scans."
If he is to miss some game time the Warriors can now at least be confident in selecting his replacement in the No.1 jersey.
Dogs' halves struggle in Wellington
They have been one of the best playmaking combinations in the competition across the first six rounds, but against the Warriors Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye struggled to find their groove.
Between them they missed 11 tackles, while their long kicking game was handled with ease for most of the game by the Warriors' back three.
Captain James Graham stopped short of criticising the halves after the game, but said the post-match video session would reveal where things went wrong.
"I really don't know [if they did a good enough job], I thought they played as good as they could, they gave their best effort and it just wasn't our night tonight," Graham said.
Missed opportunity for Canterbury-Bankstown
In many areas of the game the Bulldogs performed well enough to win – completing at 85 per cent and enjoying an even share of possession – but in the end made crucial defensive errors which saw them fall short.
After heading into Round 6 inside the top eight, and off the back of a gritty victory away to Melbourne, the trip to Wellington was a great chance to build some momentum in 2016.
After the game Hasler lamented the one that got away.
"The game was there for the taking, I think we had the game well in our grasp and we are pretty disappointed that we let this game slip away," Hasler said.
"[It's] disappointing, there's no real other way to look at it.
"In both halves we just didn’t manage the game well enough."
Improved forward effort a key factor for Warriors
A week after they were outmuscled by the Manly forward pack the Warriors stood up against a huge Bulldogs outfit.
Of the Kiwi side's starting forwards four of them ran for over 100 metres on the night, while Jacob Lillyman also added 174 off the bench.
By the end of the match the Warriors had 1,639 total run metres, with Hoffman praising second-rower Bodene Thompson – who returned after a lay-off with a rib injury – for his role in the pack.
"Bodene is a great asset to our side… just to have Bodene there and allowing Simon [Mannering] to go back to the middle, we have three back-rowers who can play 80 minutes," Hoffman said.
"It shows a lot about Bodene too, to have a few weeks off and play 80 minutes and play as strongly as he did."