Warriors embrace the feeling of freedom
When the Warriors manage to get their unique style of rugby league right it tends to be a beautiful thing to watch.
On Saturday against Brisbane the Kiwi side put together their best performance of the year, and the 36-18 victory was a clear sign that they are a better team when they move away from structured play occasionally.
From their opening attacking sets – when they were prepared to shift the ball early in tackle counts – the Warriors looked like a team who were willing to risk something in order to get rewards.
It paid off in the form of seven tries, as they dismantled a Brisbane side who going into Round 13 had leaked only 13 points on average per game.
"We just played footy, and that's when we play our best really," fullback Tuimoala Lolohea told NRL.com.
"We know when we have got to be direct, but we just play footy off the back of that.
"When we have our eyes up and do what we see it's good, and I think we did that tonight.
"The Broncos probably got a bit of a shock when on early plays we started shifting the ball."
Lolohea was among the major benefactors of the more open style, chiming in from the back of the field regularly to produce some damaging runs, as he clocked up 164 metres with two line breaks and a try assist.
Halfback Shaun Johnson and hooker Issac Luke also had arguably their best games of the season, enjoying some time on the ball following offloads and second-phase play.
"That was probably one of the best games I have played at fullback," Lolohea said.
"I felt pretty good out there tonight and I got my chances off the forwards running hard and the halves setting things up.
"I think [we are at our best playing that style], we have still got to be direct and play off that, but if we stick at it and keep working on it I think that is going to be a good.
"We didn't change much about our preparation, but we are just building more confidence at training."
Through the 80 minutes the Warriors made 10 line breaks and got 11 offloads away as the Broncos struggled to keep pace.
Perhaps most pleasing for coach Andrew McFadden will be the fact that the more adventurous style didn’t lead to increased mistakes – the Warriors’ six errors and 82 per cent completion rate are among their best numbers in those categories this season.
Speaking post-match McFadden said the bye week had provided him the opportunity to look deeper at the issues his squad were experiencing, and encouraged him to allow a more relaxed approach.
"There’s no doubt about that [letting the players 'off the leash' helped], and I guess that’s all part of it as a coach, you come to understand the group," McFadden said.
"When I really looked closely at the performances the group was trying, they just needed a bit more confidence, a bit of spark, so that’s what we have been doing during the week."
The Warriors travel away to face the last-placed Knights in Round 14.