Manly captain expects different Warriors - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly captain expects different Warriors

By Steve Jancetic 21/09/2008 06:28:59 PM Comments (0)

Manly skipper Matt Orford claims the surging New Zealand Warriors are a world away from the side the Sea Eagles brushed aside twice earlier this year.

The Warriors booked an NRL preliminary final berth with a 30-13 win over the Sydney Roosters on Friday night, the club's tenth victory from their last 12 matches.

Their last loss prior to the magic run was a 20-14 defeat at the hands of the Sea Eagles at Mt Smart Stadium in round 15.

Manly also handed the Auckland-based side their biggest loss of the season - a 52-6 hammering at Brookvale Oval in round three - but Orford sees little resemblance in that outfit to the one they'll face at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.

"They're playing the whole 80 minutes now," Orford said.

"I think just with the guys like Steve Price and the halves, they're playing really well.

"And Wade McKinnon will be back as well and he will make a difference.

"They've got a really good mix and balance and know when to throw the football and when to play consistent football."

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary claimed the biggest change in his side had been at the defensive end of the field.

During their last dozen games, the Warriors have held Melbourne to six points (round 20), Brisbane to 12 points, Cronulla to four points and the Roosters to 13.

"Definitely the second half of the year is a far cry from what the start of the year was," Cleary said.

"It is probably just our attitude changed a bit.

"Probably the biggest problem earlier on in the year was our defence.

"We have worked hard at that and the players really took responsibility there."

Cleary is yet to make a decision on what to do with McKinnon, who is available again after serving a three-game suspension, with Lance Hohaia in superb form while filling in at the back.

Hohaia's combination with fellow little men Ian Henderson and Nathan Fien has been pivotal to the Warriors' recent success and Orford said cutting down their impact would be a key for the Sea Eagles.

"They have shown (in the finals) that they're a team that doesn't hold anything back," Orford said.

"They throw the ball around and when a team plays like that with their big skilful guys they're a dangerous footy team.

"The last two times we've been able to stop that and contain that and we have to do that again and we will be in a really good position."

The Warriors will head to Sydney on Thursday night with a clean bill of health, while Manly still have injury concerns over prop Josh Perry (cork) and centre Steve Bell (calf).

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