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Warriors' triumphant New Zealand homecoming

By AAP
Jesse Arthars of the Warriors celebrates after scoring a try during the round 16 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Wests Tigers at Mt Smart Stadium, on July 03, 2022, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Warriors have played their first NRL game in New Zealand in almost three years, beating Wests Tigers 22-2 in Auckland.

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Stand-in Warriors coach Stacey Jones admitted his side “weren’t flash” in their 22-2 NRL win over the Wests Tigers, but after almost three years playing away from home it’s unlikely supporters or the team itself will be too concerned.

The win in front of 26,000 fans at a sold out Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Warriors. 

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More importantly, it re-established the club on home soil after over 1000 days without a home game due to COVID restrictions.

“I’m very happy, compared to the previous month or so,” said Jones.

“It’s been a great week coming home and the excitement around the game … to put in a gritty performance I thought, it capped off a great week.”

Given that the Tigers and Warriors were 14th and 15th on the ladder and averaging less than 17 points a game, it wasn’t a surprise that fixture quickly became an arm wrestle. 

It took almost half an hour mark for the first try, when Warriors captain Tohu Harris crashed over from a good pass by Wayde Egan. 

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Shortly after, a good Warriors set saw Shaun Johnson send a bomb out wide for Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to contest, with the end result seeing the ball come loose and dived on by Chanel Harris-Tavita for their second converted try.

The only scoring the Tigers could muster in the first half was an Adam Doueihi penalty goal just before the break.

If the first half was a grind, then the second half was even more so. 

While both sides had few problems completing their sets, line breaks were rare, with the Tigers’ best chance coming off a Luke Garner run that ended with a knock on.

Given the defensive nature of the game, a second Johnson penalty goal in the 65th minute pushed the lead out to 16-2 before the halfback had one last piece of magic.

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A perfect kick enabled Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to bat back the ball for Jesse Arthars to score in the corner.

Johnson’s sideline conversion sealed a solid, if unspectacular win.

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Try scorer Harris pointed out the importance of the home crowd.

“We’ve had a lot of good support away, but there’s nothing like the support we get here,” he said. 

“Every single person was following and supporting us; it meant a lot and gave us a lot of energy.”

The Warriors will need every bit of that for their next game at Mt Smart in three weeks’ time, when they face a powerful Melbourne Storm side that beat them by a record 70-10 back on Anzac Day.

By: Jamie Wall, AAP

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Shaylen 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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