Warriors put the offloads away
Under the instruction of new coach Stephen Kearney, the Warriors admit they will gladly sacrifice second-phase play in exchange for completed sets in the 2017 Telstra Premiership.
Traditionally renowned for their ability and willingness to promote the ball and keep play alive, after five matches this year the Warriors had offloaded the ball less than any team bar the North Queensland Cowboys, at an average of 6.2 per game.
Over the same period they have averaged a 77 per cent completion rate, and ahead of hosting the Parramatta Eels in Round 6 prop Jacob Lillyman told NRL.com the strategy was paying dividends so far.
"Probably indirectly it has been a conscious movement away from so many offloads," Lillyman said.
"We have spoken about our completion rates in previous years and it has let us down a lot, so we are focussing a lot more on getting those completions.
"All except probably the Dragons game we have completed really well, so there is a good balance there between playing our hand and playing percentage footy.
"We are getting there and it's a big improvement. I haven't noticed it too much on the field, but it's probably that everyone is a bit wary of overplaying it.
"I am sure once we get a bit of confidence as time goes on we will see a bit more footy played."
Last Sunday in a 28-22 victory over the Gold Coast Titans, the Warriors made just five errors across 80 minutes, completing 31 of 36 sets at a rate of 86 per cent.
Halfback Shaun Johnson reserved special praise for the ball security of the club's backline, who made no errors in Round 5 while running for a combined 616 metres.
"That's a big part of today's game completing sets. I think you have got to give a rap to our back five, we got told they made no errors out of yardage," Johnson said.
"That tells me that when we did make our errors we were still handing them the ball in the better part of the field.
"I know in the past they have made a few errors coming out of our back field and it puts you under a lot of pressure defensively, so they did a terrific job in making that right."
Meanwhile the Eels will be without the services of star fullback Bevan French against the Warriors, with the 21-year-old flyer set to miss at least a month with knee injury.