Sharks, Warriors clash a season-definer
Fri, 03 Aug 2012 2:01p.m.
By Angela Beswick
It will be a season-defining match for both the Sharks and the Warriors when they meet at Mt Smart in Auckland this Sunday.
The Warriors last week made NRL history when they conceded an 18-nil lead for the second week in a row. The seventh-placed Sharks are also in a slump, having won just one of their last five games.
But while their confidence has taken a hit, coach Bluey McClennan insists the Warriors’ losses to Manly and Newcastle are not indicative of a trend.
“Everybody is really determined, obviously extremely disappointed post-Manly game. But we have to bury those quickly to go forward. We have to grab lessons out of it,” he says.
“I’m confident that if we can really work for each other in our defensive systems and if we’ve got a lead, keep attacking and keep the same structure going with what you did in the first 20 minutes, then I know we’ll be a hard side to beat.”
Warriors centre Ben Henry says the onus is on every member of the team.
“We have great leaders like Manu Vatuvei and Simon Mannering who are ruthless week in, week out and myself, I’ve got to see that and appreciate that, and I’ve got to follow as well. I think that’s what’s been lacking lately and hopefully we can get the vital two points we need this week against the Sharks,” he says.
“It’ll be a tough game but I believe we have what it takes to win.”
This weekend will see the first-grade debut of Carlos Tuimavave, who is feeling the pressure of entering a team that can’t afford to lose.
“I’m going to go out there, try to do my best, do my job and hopefully do what I can for the team,” he says.
McClennan hopes Tuimavave will be just what the Warriors need.
“He has the ability to cover a few positions and centre,” he says. “It allows us to release Ben Henry into the back row if we need during that game.”
But Tuimavave insists he’s “just happy to play anywhere”.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m going to be nervous. But I think I just need to treat it like another game; go out there, run the ball hard, tackle hard.”
And after a weekend which saw a number of upsets throughout the competition, the Warriors clash with the Sharks is one that could go either way.
“They’re a real good side, they work hard for each other and we know we’re in for a real big challenge,” says McClennan.
“They have been going through a rough patch but in saying that, they’re a capable footy team and we have to match them, especially in the collision area,” says Henry. “We have to be ruthless.”
Meanwhile, Tuimavave hopes playing at home will provide the advantage he needs.
“It makes it a lot easier for myself, playing at home in front of my friends and family.
“Makes the job easier and a lot more comfortable.”
And for fans struggling to keep the faith, Henry believes it’s not too late for the Warriors to make it to the finals.
“We’ve got some great players here; the likes of Feleti Mateo and Shaun Johnson. If we stick to doing our jobs, we can hopefully turn this season around,” he says.
“Hopefully we can get some justice for the fans, get a win for them and give them something to be proud of.”
The Warriors take on the Cronulla Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday at 2pm.
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