Warriors blitz brings confidence - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors blitz brings confidence

By Nicky Park 07/07/2010 04:59:18 PM Comments (0)

Warriors boss Ivan Cleary is confident his in-form side can continue last week's second-half blitz of Parramatta in Sunday's NRL clash with table-topping Penrith.

The two sides will meet in what is shaping as an intriguing CUA Stadium match-up.

The Warriors have won their last three games, moving into the top eight, while the Panthers have claimed their last four.

Penrith's impressive 12-8 victory over co-leaders St George Illawarra on Monday night to join the Dragons on 26 points was the latest confirmation Matt Elliott's men are the real deal in 2010.

But the Warriors' stunning burst late in the second half last Sunday blew the struggling Eels off the park in a 35-6 win.

"That second half, I can't remember one like that in a long time for us," Cleary said.

"It's definitely given us a bit of confidence."

Cleary said the New Zealand side's low tackle count of 259 compared to the Eels' 365 meant the Warriors would be refreshed and raring to go against the Panthers.

"Being able to come out of a game feeling a little bit fresher, not only physically but mentally, will certainly help for a tough game this week," he said.

The Warriors were hammered by the Panthers back in round six, down 22-0 at halftime before being crushed 40-12.

Penrith halfback Luke Walsh, whose polished kicking game has contributed to his competition-leading 25 try assists in 2010, returns from a hamstring injury to face the Warriors.

"They probably have the best chase and the best compete in the league and it's worked for them," Cleary said.

"We'll certainly be in the frame and have plenty of our jerseys in the frame, I think that's probably the key.

"If you can defend some of those kicks you're in a position to ask some questions that maybe they haven't had a lot of this year."

Warriors fullback Lance Hohaia will return from the groin strain that forced him out of last week's clash and says he's ready for the Panthers' air raid.

"We practise catching bombs and all sorts of kicks every week and it's especially important against those guys," he said.

"They got us a few times last time they played us and I think they score a lot of their points from kicks as well.

"So we've got a big job putting pressure on the kicker."

The 26-year-old said Sunday's game will test the depth of the injury-depleted Kiwi side.

"From the start of the year we've wanted to be in the finals ... that's why we're here every year," said Hohaia, the Warriors' longest-standing player.

"We're sitting in a relatively good position to have our destiny in our hands."

Jerome Ropati, who stood in for Hohaia at fullback, returns to centre.

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