Defence keeps Warriors in playoff hunt - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Defence keeps Warriors in playoff hunt

By Alastair Bull 17/08/2008 04:45:54 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart labelled it a poor display of rugby league on an unpleasant night.

But for the New Zealand Warriors, their 18-4 win over the Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday was everything they wanted as they target a place in the NRL finals.

The win highlighted one key reason why the Warriors now have a chance of making the top eight - staunch defence in the face of trouble, something which wasn't always there in the first half of the season.

In the third quarter of the match in particular, the Warriors were guilty of a number of errors, many of them committed in their own half.

But they held the Sharks, who were level on points with the top two teams coming into this round, scoreless during that period.

"We dropped a little bit of ball, but so did they," Warriors captain Steven Price said.

"Throughout the year, particularly earlier in the year, if we had have done that we would have had a try scored against us, but tonight it goes to show the difference in attitude between now and then."

Twice the Warriors held a Cronulla player up over the try line, notably comeback kid Wade McKinnon, who got his legs in the way of a barging run by Sharks forward Adam Peek just before halftime.

McKinnon's intervention allowed the Warriors to take a crucial 12-4 lead into the break.

"It was pretty important before halftime because I thought we were struggling a bit," Warriors coach Ivan Cleary said.

"Halftime was pretty good for us, but having said that I still thought the majority of the game we controlled things reasonably well."

The victory means the Warriors have now won six of their last seven games.

It has them tied for sixth place on 26 competition points, though their poor points differential could still stop them from earning a top eight spot.

Many of their recent wins have come in cold, wet conditions in Auckland but Price said the team were more than capable of playing well in better weather.

"I think we have plenty of steam in our outside backs and I'm sure they would look forward to some dry footy but it doesn't worry us at the moment," he said.

Stuart said the game was not one befitting the NRL first grade.

"It was a poor game and the skill level was low," he said.

"They gave us the opportunity in the first 20 minutes of the second half and we weren't good enough to take it."

Stuart said the Sharks were likely to take on the Roosters next week without fullback Brett Kearney, who copped a hip injury on Saturday night which could take two weeks to fix.

The Warriors next take on St George-Illawarra Dragons on Sunday, one of the teams level with them on points.

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