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July 19, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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The Warriors

The Reverse Sweep

The future looks bright once more for the New Zealand Warriors. The seemingly inherent erratic nature of the Warriors has come to the fore again this season, with some stellar performances being cancelled out by some absolute shockers. However, four top-notch wins on the trot has breathed new life into a once faltering NRL campaign.

A gutsy 12–6 win over the high-flying Panthers showed the fighting spirit of the young side, backing up from a dazzling 34–6 demolition of the hapless Parramatta Eels. The ability to back up victories with continued solid performances is a feat which has so often eluded the Warriors, and thus this purple patch holds great promise.

Even in the face of terrible luck with injuries and refereeing this year, the Warriors have managed to haul themselves right back into contention for the top eight, lying sixth after 16 rounds. The excellent form shown in the last month means the Warriors are in a prime position to have a genuine tilt at the title, provided consistency and solidarity continue to be prioritised.

Despite the recent retirement of influential ex-skipper Steve Price, and the departure of equally respected centre Brent Tate at the season’s end, the predominantly young side looks certain to be a force in future years. The signings of Kiwi utility Krisnan Inu and blockbusting Tongan Feleti Mateo, along with the re-signing of workhorse Michael Luck, gives the Warriors a strong base of talent to work from. Management are also confident of luring big-hitting Kiwi centre Steve Matai to Auckland—a signing which would really bolster the midfield stocks.

At around the midway point of the NRL, the tussle for finals places already looks set to go down to the wire, with an ever-even competition shaping up. Only two points separate positions four through nine, meaning that a single victory could end up defining a club’s season. Hence the Warriors must also be aware of point differential, with the likes of the dangerous Rabbitohs, Broncos and Sea Eagles breathing down their necks.

The victory over the Panthers comprised all of the aspects crucial to the Warriors’ success—refs, injuries and consistency. The refereeing was well below par, with the Warriors forced to combat the likes of a lopsided penalty count, a disallowed try and a dubiously awarded try to the Panthers (their only score!). The bruising nature of defending wave after wave of Panthers attack also means that there are yet more injury concerns for next game. Hopefully, however, the overriding factor will be that the Warriors can maintain their current form, and continue to fight to the end.

Could this be a year to cherish?

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