Warriors primed for NRL finals says Cleary - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors primed for NRL finals says Cleary

By Robert Lowe 03/09/2011 09:50:20 PM Comments (0)

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary says his players are primed for NRL finals football after they dominated North Queensland 18-6 in Auckland on Saturday night.

The Warriors had the lion's share of possession on the way to scoring three tries to one in slippery conditions to finish sixth in the minor premiership.

Their qualifying final next week is likely to be against Brisbane, who beat them by a solitary point at Suncorp Stadium a month ago with a late Peter Wallace field goal.

"We're certainly ready and were definitely battled hardened," Cleary said.

"We've had some very tough games over the last month and I think that's a good thing going in."

The Warriors are also expected to have one of their strike weapons, giant winger Manu Vatuvei, back on deck after missing the past two rounds with a wrist injury.

Defeat dropped the Cowboys to seventh and they face a probable trip to Manly next week.

But they'll also have the carrot, like the Warriors, of a home semi-final if they win.

North Queensland coach Neil Henry pointed to the Warriors' own achievement in 2008, when they were the eighth-ranked team heading into the finals.

"They knocked off Melbourne and got a home game and beat the Roosters here," he said.

"We'll prepare well, get a good week in and see how it goes."

For long-serving Warrior Lance Hohaia, who heads to English Super League club St Helens at the end of his 10th NRL season, it was a winning farewell in his final regular season appearance at Mt Smart Stadium.

The 28-Test Kiwi marked his 181th first-grade match by getting on the score sheet with the 56th career try.

Winger Krisnan Inu got the Warriors' two other tries, while Kalifa Faifai Loa touched down for the Cowboys midway through the first half to tie the score at 6-6.

A crowd of 20,082, the largest at Mount Smart Stadium this year, turned up on a cold, damp night, and Henry said the home side adapted better to the difficult conditions.

He cited the Cowboys inability to get a greater share of the ball as a key factor in the result.

"We needed possession," he said.

"When we got field position we really tested them, but we just didn't really get down that end in the second half."

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