At the beginning of every match, we enter a world where anything is possible, where everything we’ve imagined during the week could become a reality.
And then this happens.
It’s a world that can be dazzling, but treacherous.
It’s a place for anyone who’s ever had a dream.
It’s a world that, after nine minutes, can seem so fantastic. The ball moves from side-to-side, Shaun dances, Jonathan Wright has his first Warriors try and it’s 12–0.
For the first 20 minutes, the Warriors re-write the story.
But then the errors creep in, and the Cowboys hit back. 12–6 in the 21st minute. As time ticks on, the Warriors’ sequence with ball in hand goes error, error, and suddenly it’s 12–10.
Kane Linnett’s try is followed by another Warriors’ error, two penalties conceded and then Chad Townsend kicks the ball out on the full. For 14 minutes, the Warriors fail to finish a set of six. That’s why it’s so remarkable when this happens.
The 1300 Smiles return to Warrior faces, and somehow they’re 16–10 up at halftime.
The errors continue after the break, but when The Beast becomes the leading Kiwi try-scorer in NRL history, it looks like the Warriors might leave North Queensland with two points in their back pocket.
But the thing about the NeverEnding Story is that the Nothing won’t go away without a fight.
And it’s a downward spiral.
As you begin to lose your hope, you forget your dreams. And the Nothing grows stronger.
At the 70-minute mark, Jake Granville darts over from dummy-half to make it 24–22. The men from Mt Smart are still up by two, but despair is lurking.
The final 10 minutes are too painful to discuss, too painful to re-live. Let’s just say that the match finishes 28–24 to the Cowboys and when the whistle blows, the NRL Warrior experiences the full force of the Nothing and emptiness is all that is left.
SET OF SIX:
- The Warriors had a chance very early on to kill this game off. At 12–0 up, after Lachlan Coote had kicked the ball dead from the kick off for the second consecutive time, the Warriors put on a scrum move and it looked like they were in again.
If Tui Lolohea can find a way to beat Antonio Winterstein, or finds Jonathan Wright with that pass, the men from Mt Smart leave Townsville with the two points.
- Shaun Johnson was much more involved. Fans have been screaming out for Johnson to take on more responsibility, and on Saturday night he did just that. In the second half especially, Johnson was the one finishing almost every set, and, in doing so, he looked a lot more composed. Stay patient Warrior Nation.
- Isn’t it great Jason Taumololo is a Kiwi. He chose Townsville over Penrose, but let’s not hold that against him. A genuine star. I can’t wait to see him run all over the Aussies in the Anzac Test.
- The great players do all the little things right. Jonathan Thurston didn’t always have the impact he might have hoped for in his 250th match, but sometimes it’s the little things that show you how good someone is. In the clip below, he turns what could have been a dangerous situation, and a smart play by Chad Townsend, into another Cowboys’ set starting in the opposition half. It’s as if he knew what Townsend was going to do before Townsend even saw the space himself.
- Have I mentioned how frustrating play-the-ball penalties are? Which of these videos looks more like a penalty to you? Listen to the ref, too, that might help. Or maybe not. There’s no bias here, it’s just a lottery, which is just as bad if you ask me.
- Stick with this kid Sam Lisone. He’ll be a serious player, just you wait.
THE GOLDEN POINT:
The Warriors have lost four games this year. In every game, they’ve beaten themselves. Is it a silver lining that they’ve shown enough to suggest they can beat anyone if they get it right? I’m conflicted about how to answer that question.
But, I’ll tell you what I have learned.
Come in a little closer, it’s a real game-changer.
Would you like to know the secret of the NeverEnding Story, how to end the despair, how to banish the emptiness?
HOLD ON TO THE BALL!!!!!!!!!!!