Knights clash vital for Warriors finals chances
Sat, 21 Jul 2012 2:35a.m.
There are still seven rounds to go before NRL playoff spots are decided but the Warriors-Knights clash shapes up as a vital one for the finals hopes of both teams.
The Warriors sit ninth in the NRL table, one win outside the eighth and final playoff spot, while Newcastle are just one win further away in 12th position.
A loss for either side will put a large dent in their playoff prospects, particularly for Newcastle, who have the added pressure of not having beaten the Warriors since 2009 and not having won at Mt Smart Stadium since 2005.
But Newcastle have been in good form and looked slick in thrashing Manly 32-6 last week and a similar performance will make it hard work for the New Zealanders.
"They've won three of their last four so we've got a healthy respect for them," Warriors coach Brian McClennan says.
"But we've had a good look at them and have come up with a game plan we think will suit best against them."
The Warriors dominated all the statistics bar the scoreboard against Brisbane last Friday, going down 10-8.
James Maloney missed some kicks he would usually land with his eyes closed but McClennan said it was poor option-taking and execution in attack which primarily let them down.
Hooker Nathan Friend says the Warriors would take plenty of positives from that game.
"There's still seven games to go and we know we've got a quality side around us. Our confidence is there, we're just trying to finish what we started."
The attack should be greatly aided by the return of rookie centre Konrad Hurrell, who before missing the Broncos game with a foot injury had scored 12 tries in as many games.
"I wanted to go to Brisbane but the doctor said I shouldn't risk it," Hurrell says.
"I was frustrated seeing the boys do their best but they just couldn't come up with the win that we wanted. I'm really looking forward to Saturday."
The Knights were expected to welcome back lock Neville Costigan but have lost winger James McManus to injury.
"Defensively we've got to be at the top of our game," Knights captain Danny Buderus tells media.
"We need to do a job in the forwards where we can somehow get in their faces and slow them down."
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21/07/2012 10:49:50 p.m.
Analysis: The high risk defensive strategy employed by the warriors (running one up, not marking square out wide etc...) puts huge psychological pressure on the boys when they're back on offense. This extra pressure destroys their offensive mojo and the result is average play from a team of champions.
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