Warriors wary of fiery Storm - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors wary of fiery Storm

By Robert Lowe 24/07/2008 10:22:24 AM Comments (0)

Billy Slater's absence will help, but the New Zealand Warriors know Melbourne won't lack for firepower when the sides meet in the NRL in Auckland on Sunday.

Slater is serving a one-match ban for his part in an all-in scrap during the defending champions' 26-0 win over St George Illawarra on Monday night.

The dynamic Queensland Origin fullback pleaded guilty to contrary conduct and was then successful in having the severity of the charge downgraded.

Slater's attacking threat was evident when the Storm outclassed the Warriors 32-18 in the opening round of the season, bagging a hat-trick of tries in the first 25 minutes.

Warrior Lance Hohaia started on the bench that night but has since become the Auckland-based club's regular fullback, standing in for long-term casualty Wade McKinnon.

"They still have plenty of strike guys in their team," Hohaia said of Slater's suspension.

"He's definitely one of them, and it will be helpful to us if he's not there.

"But they've got the likes of Cameron Smith, Israel Folau and Greg Inglis, who are all big name players.

"We're just going to have to worry more about what we do than worry about them."

Hohaia, a utility who has operated in various positions during his career, had had little experience at fullback before this season.

The 25-year-old Kiwi has been getting more comfortable in the role each week and was impressive in the 40-22 defeat of the Bulldogs last Sunday.

He scored a fine try, had a try assist and produced four line breaks.

However, he expected less freedom to run the ball on Sunday than he had against the Bulldogs.

"There were a lot of opportunities for me last weekend and I'm not sure there's going to be so many against the Storm," he said.

"Their defence is probably stiffer around the middle."

The Storm head into the latest round lying second on the ladder, two points behind leaders Manly.

The Warriors are in 11th spot, but only a point out of the top eight in a congested table where just four points separate sixth and 13th.

They appear to be building some momentum, having won three in a row, and coach Ivan Cleary this week named an unchanged lineup for the third successive match.

Like last year, when they finished fourth in the minor premiership, the Warriors are relying on a strong second half to their campaign to make the playoffs.

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