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Season In The Balance


Season In The Balance

Season In The Balance



When: Friday July 28, 2017.

Where:  Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland.

Watch it: LIVE. SKY Sport 2  from 7.30pm.

And so the 2017 finals campaign for the Warriors reaches the edge of the cliff.

There is now no more room for second chances. It’s win, and keep winning. They find themselves facing the same scenario as the likes of Canberra, Canterbury and the Gold Coast locked on 18 points, and six points adrift of the top eight with six rounds to play.

The Warriors draw for the remainder of the season is Sharks (h), Knights (a), Raiders (h), Rabbitohs (a), Sea Eagles (h), and Tigers (a).

Based on the effort the Warriors put in last Saturday night even in defeat against the Cowboys, they would be a chance in every match.

The focus right now is tackling the defending premiers Cronulla on Friday night at Mount Smart. The Sharks at their best have been very impressive, but are going through a patch where they are struggling for consistency. As a matter of fact they haven’t won consecutive games since the start of last month.

Like the Warriors, the Sharks are also missing a key playmaker for this one with James Maloney sidelined with a broken hand. Samoan international Fa’amanu Brown will fill in at five-eighth alongside former Warrior Chad Townsend in the halves.

The rest of the Cronulla team looks rock solid with no less than 13 of last year’s grand final squad named to play.

The last time these two sides met was in Round 16 last year. The Warriors were the better team yet came up empty handed in a golden point finish 19-18.

In the head to head tally the Warriors have won 16 of the previous 36 meetings.

I believe they have a chance of beating Cronulla but they will need to produce a big effort in the forwards.

Perhaps the biggest certainty is that it will be close based on recent results between the two teams. Aside from the golden point game, in all bar one of the previous five clashes to that, the winning margin has been just four points. 

The Warriors need your support folks. This could be the end of the line for 2017.

The hot tip:

Get set for a sensational fullback showdown in this one. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck v Valentine Holmes. I reckon they’ll both end up with four pointers.

Kiwi watch:

There are another eight games for you this week on SKY Sport kicking off Thursday night with the clash of the Panthers and the Bulldogs.

There is a chance Dean Whare will make his return from injury for Penrith after being named in their 21 man squad.

In the late game on Friday night, Parramatta is at home to Brisbane. The return of former Broncos and New Zealand international Josh Hoffman is timely for the Eels after the loss of Clint Gutherson.

Our Super Saturday on SKY will commence with the Knights tackling the Dragons. Shaun Kenny-Dowall plays his second match for Newcastle after scoring a try last week on his club debut.

The middle match on Saturday has Souths against Canberra. Kiwi international Joseph Tapine is in the Raiders starting side replacing the suspended Sia Soliola.

Meantime two plays five when the Roosters battle the Cowboys. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will again co-captain the Roosters.

And on Sunday you can catch this NRL double on SKY Sport. Melbourne play Manly, followed by the Titans against the Tigers. There was disappointing news for Konrad Hurell last weekend as he suffered a hamstring injury in the team’s loss to Penrith. He is likely to miss the next month for the Gold Coast.

From the vault:

The Warriors had a big day out in round 21, 2014. They flogged the Raiders in Canberra 54-18, leading 54-0 with five minutes remaining. Manu Vatuvei scored a hat-trick in the 10 try romp.

They weren’t to know at the time but conceding those three late tries would cost the Warriors a place in the finals as they missed the playoffs on a points differential of 13 to Brisbane.

My tips for round 21:

Panthers, Sharks, Broncos, Dragons, Raiders, Cowboys, Storm, Titans.

Twitter: @AndrewVossy

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