Warriors in SBW damage control - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors in SBW damage control

By Steve Jancetic, Xavier LaCanna and Liam FitzGibbon 12/04/2008 11:15:25 AM Comments (0)

New Zealand Warriors coach Ivan Cleary is a realist - you don't stop Sonny Bill Williams, you simply limit the destruction.

The Warriors will be in damage control when they take on Williams' Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday, the home side needing to arrest a worrying trend if they are to get the points.

They've lost their last six games against the Bulldogs and, if they don't keep Williams quiet, a seventh straight defeat may not be far away.

"The thing with Sonny Bill is you are not going to stop everything he does, it is just a matter of everyone being alive when he gets the ball and doing your best," Cleary said.

"He is obviously a key guy for them and he is hard to contain ... I think the best thing you can do is control what we can do and make sure that we are not turning over possession easily and giving them too many opportunities."

Even in a well beaten side last week, Williams managed to walk away from the 40-12 loss to the Roosters with his head held high.

He ran for 132 metres, had seven offloads and two line-breaks and, had it not been for his influence and a brilliant defensive display from Luke Patten, the score might have been anything.

Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes, who this week announced 2008 would be his last in charge at the club, said his side needed to do more to take advantage of the opportunities created by the Kiwi juggernaut.

"I think if you're a player playing alongside Sonny, you'd be mad not to follow him," Folkes said.

"We press that upon the guys every week, we haven't capitalised on a couple of breaks he's made last week but I'm sure the guys are thinking about that this week."

The Warriors have had little trouble scoring points at home this season, averaging 28 in their two wins there this year.

It was not surprising then that Cleary was emphasising defence to his squad this week.

"The thing about the Bulldogs is that they always play football," Cleary said.

"A lot of it is stuff that is really hard to stop.

"You have just got to be really on your toes and ready for anything when you play against them."

Cleary will be sure to instruct his kickers to give the Bulldogs back three plenty of high balls to deal with after they were exposed against the Roosters.

But having had the wood on the Warriors in recent times, Folkes said his side would head across the Tasman with plenty of confidence.

"It is (difficult winning over there) but we've got a pretty good record over there against them," Folkes said.

"We've probably won more than we've lost over there.

"So we go over there with a bit of confidence from that but it will be a tough game because they're a big physical side with plenty of ball skill."

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