Warriors ready to avoid Shark bite - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors ready to avoid Shark bite

By Robert Lowe 13/06/2008 04:18:45 PM Comments (0)

The New Zealand Warriors are looking back to their last trip across the Tasman for inspiration as they try to rectify their defensive woes in the National Rugby League.

The Warriors, who are away to Cronulla on Saturday night, have leaked more points than any other side in the competition this year.

The situation wasn't eased by a shock 35-28 home defeat last weekend to bottom club South Sydney, who overcame an early 14-0 deficit to grab just their second win.

Yet only six days earlier, the Warriors had produced an admirable defensive display in downing Newcastle 18-16 to record their first success on the road in 2008.

Their goal-line doggedness helped to keep them in the contest, before Patrick Ah Van landed the winning penalty two minutes from time.

"Attitude is a big word, it encompasses a lot of things," coach Ivan Cleary said.

"It was very good against the Knights the week before and parts of our game at the weekend defensively were good - we probably started better than we have in any other game."

But the Warriors' effort inexplicably fell away as they allowed the Rabbitohs to run in six tries.

"For some reason - I'm still trying to find out why - we're just letting ourselves down," Cleary said.

"Individuals are letting themselves down at vital times. Against a team like the Rabbitohs, who had nothing to lose and who have some good players, we just couldn't plug the holes."

Cleary has responded with changes, including dropping second rower Epalahame Lauaki and bringing back veteran Logan Swann in his place.

Rookie forwards Sonny Fai and Russell Packer have been given a first-grade breather and will turn out for the Junior Warriors against the Sharks in the National Youth Competition.

However, another up-and-comer, 19-year-old Wellington second rower Ben Matulino, who has yet to make his NRL debut, has been included on an expanded bench, with Cleary saying he will get game time.

The Warriors will be strengthened by the return of skipper Steve Price and centre Brent Tate, who were among the stars of Queensland's 30-0 humbling of New South Wales in State of Origin two on Wednesday night.

The Warriors languish in 13th position, while Cronulla are fifth, coincidentally the same positions the two teams occupied 12 months ago when the Warriors went to Toyota Park and ended a six-match losing streak with a 12-2 win.

That result was the start of a resurgence for the Auckland-based club, who suffered just two defeats in 12 matches over the second half of the regular season to finish fourth ahead of the playoffs.

Cleary was hoping the fact that the trip to Cronulla should fall again in round 14, with both teams in the same places on the ladder as they were a year ago, was an omen of sorts.

"We're halfway through the season," he said.

"The business end starts now and it's an opportunity for us to rewrite the year."

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