Warriors v Roosters: Five key points
It was a tough grind in Auckland on Sunday night as the Warriors edged past a stubborn Roosters side 12-10, to secure their third-consecutive victory. Here are five key talking points from the Round 15 clash at Mt Smart Stadium.
Grinding wins more important for McFadden
His team had put together some of their very best football over the previous two weeks, scoring a combined 86 points to run the Broncos and Knights off the park, but Warriors coach Andrew McFadden claims this two-point victory was far more pleasing.
Not always noted for their ability to stay in the grind, the Warriors showed some toughness against a Roosters side who frustrated them with continual efforts to slow the play the ball down and a staunch goal-line defence which took 63 minutes to penetrate.
"I was extremely pleased with the overall performance. I’d say it was better than the last two [wins]," McFadden said.
"Just because we got challenged today by a very determined team and then we had our own internal challenges in terms of changes.
"I don’t think we have had too many games like that, so that’s very satisfying that one."
Pride in defeat for Robinson
Despite losing by such a close margin, in a game where they had chances to score a late winner, Roosters mentor Trent Robinson said he felt proud as the full-time siren sounded in Auckland.
After suffering their worst defeat of the season last week, going down 46-0 to the Storm, Sunday night’s effort was a marked improvement for the Bondi club.
"Very proud of the way the guys played, I thought we came out and we decided to play a certain way and we put pressure on the Warriors," Robinson said.
"I thought we saw a courageous team out there tonight, I thought they fought hard against the Warriors and against some adversity there.
"I was really proud and then really disappointed that we couldn’t take some of those opportunities [with the ball]."
Warriors learning to deal with adversity
In previous weeks having a player sent to the bin and conceding a try directly after it might have deflated the Warriors, but against the Roosters they handled it with an impressive composure.
After Ken Maumalo was ordered from the field for 10 minutes following a professional foul, the Roosters took full advantage, scoring via Mitchell Aubusson to take the lead on 21 minutes.
But on the sets which followed the Warriors got back on track by opting to take a penalty from in front of the posts, before forcing a repeat set on their next use of the ball, by which time Maumalo was ready to return.
"I thought it was smart play, that was all on the players…it was a good decision to try and soak up some of that time," McFadden said.
"In the early stage of the game there was a bit of adversity to get over… we know that when things go well for us that we can do that, but it’s when we get challenged that we haven’t been good in the past, but today we were."
Roosters set their benchmark with defence
Despite being up against a 10-3 penalty count and a team who ran for 335 metres more than them, the Roosters’ defensive effort on their line was almost faultless through the 80 minutes.
Only a piece of Shaun Johnson magic against tired bodies saw the Warriors get over the line, and according to captain Jake Friend it’s a blueprint for what they should expect from each other for the remainder of 2016.
"Goal-line ‘D’ is something that has let us down this year," Friend said.
"It’s a good start for us, I think the attitude and the scramble there from us for the majority of the game was really good.
"But we have got to sort of make that the standard and only get better from here, there is no going back for the rest of the season."
Youthful pack stands tall
In the face of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sam Moa and Dylan Napa, the Warriors’ young props won the battle in the middle of the park to help their team to 1802 total running metres.
Without their most experienced front-rower in Jacob Lillyman (Queensland Origin), the Warriors had only one bookend, Ben Matulino, who boasted more than 30 games at NRL level.
"The Roosters’ strength is in their pack and they are a team that got challenged from their coach during the week," Hoffman said.
"It was great to see players like Albert [Vete], Sam [Lisone], Charlie [Gubb] and ‘Tof’ (Toafofoa Sipley), meet the challenge and meet the challenge head on.
"They have got international front-rowers and I thought the boys did very well."