Shaun Johnson celebrates with Warriors teammates against the Titans in Round 22.

Meeting that revived Warriors fortunes

It wasn't working, and Warriors coach Andrew McFadden was courageous enough to make a change before it was too late.

Sitting in 14th position with just four wins from their first 11 games of the season experts such as Peter Sterling declared the Warriors couldn't make the finals while New Zealand rugby league legend Graham Lowe called for McFadden to fall on his sword for the sake of the club.

 

 

But McFadden's first call of action was to swallow his pride and allow his talented playmakers to express themselves more freely and the result has been a run of six wins from nine games, their three losses all coming in golden point extra time.

Sitting in seventh position with three games at home in the final month of the regular season the Warriors are now very much in control of their own finals destiny with a home final in Week One of the finals series not out of the question.

They have conceded 20 points just once since Round 11 and fullback Tuimoala Lolohea credits a greater freedom in attack with their mid-season resurgence.

"We're playing our style of footy, using our eyes and looking forward and I guess it's helping us on the field and opening up opportunities for Shaun [Johnson] and Tommy [Leuluai] to run the ball more," Lolohea told NRL.com.

"It was just more the players and the coach.'Cappy' (McFadden) brought it up and it was Shauny and Tommy who came on board with it and said that this was how we wanted to play.

"Everyone has come on board and everyone is buying in to what we want to do and what's going good for us.

"We're going to stick at it and keep getting better at it."

 


Despite having 10 less carries of the ball and only 46 per cent of possession the Warriors made 166 more metres than the Titans and looked far more lethal in attacking areas.

A key reason behind that was the performance of the back five including centres David Fusitu'a and Solomone Kata who both ran for more than 160 metres.

Those figures may have been inflated by their respective intercepts midway through the second half but Titans captain Ryan James said the sheer size of the likes of Manu Vatuvei and Ken Maumalo on the wings made the Warriors hard to contain.

"They're a little bit quicker around the ruck and that touch style and they can beat you with their step," James said after a second gruelling clash in the space of six days.

"You can't really get a lot of people into the tackle because they're getting around you and finding their front and trying to get that quick play-the-ball.

"They've got those two big wingers that come in and bash it up on [tackle] one and two and they're pretty hard to handle.

"They get them rolling forward and if you can't stop that roll forward they'll just keep going."

The same number of forwards ran for more than 100 metres as in the Warriors back five and Lolohea said that they are a far more effective team when the backs can contribute similar metres to the men in the middle.

"It's massive when you have Manu and Ken on the wings, the starts that they produce," Lolohea said.

"I'm probably different to the way they carry the ball with my footwork at the line and then you have 'Solo' (Kata) as well, who is a little nugget, and 'Fusi' (Fusitu'a) is pretty strong at contact.

"It's massive when you get a good go-forward the way they come into the game and what they produce for us and I guess that makes it easier for the forwards who don't have to go so far back.

"We try to get our back three back to get us much metres as we can up the field and to make it easier for the forwards."