The Human Touch

We’ve become so reliant on machines these days that sometimes it seems like we can’t do anything without technology.

They tell us where to go:

How to manage our finances:

And keep us fit and healthy:

It makes you wonder — what’s next?

So there was every reason to be nervous when the Green Machine rolled in to town. How could a simple Warrior defeat the most advanced attacking prototype of 2015?

A few months ago, with system errors appearing all across the defensive line, the men from Mt Smart would have had no chance.

But Coach Cappy and his band of Warriors have since concocted a plan capable of defeating even the very best NRL machines. They call it:

Operation Drain Battery

And it seems to be working.

The men from Mt Smart first adopted this strategy against the Roosters three weeks ago, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, Version 1.0 was unsuccessful. There were bugs in the system, and, at around the 60 minute mark, errors started to occur. The system went haywire.

Version 2.0 was successful, but Version 3.0 really started to get the formula right. The Warriors have figured out that the best way to defeat anyone, especially a machine, is to drain their batteries. On Saturday night, the Warriors had 64% of possession, and forced Canberra to make over 400 tackles. Those are impressive numbers. It’s very hard for a Green Machine to attack you if they can’t get hold of the ball. Operation Drain Battery is about error-free football. It’s about wearing teams out and then preying on their weak spots (see Jarrod Croker). It’s a simple plan that doesn’t require much complicated technology, but it sure is proving effective.

On Saturday night, things continued where they left off against the Titans, with Bodene Thompson celebrating his century of appearances by brushing off Jarrod Croker to open the scoring. The Warriors were so dominant in the opening exchanges that when the Green Machine hit the front after 25 minutes, it felt like we must have been experiencing some sort of technical difficulty.

But then a Hurrellcane hit Canberra and, from then on, there was only one team suffering from rain fade.

The likes of double centurion Jacob Lillyman, Captain Mannering and Ben Matulino continued to roll upfield, battering away at the Raiders’ defensive line.

The Hot Stepper got in on the action, and the scoreboard began to tick over at regular intervals.

As the men from Mt Smart kept the Green Machine scoreless for the final 55 minutes of the game, time ticked by calmly — a rare and treasured experience for a Warriors fan. But you won’t hear me complaining about a nice, relaxing victory, so I guess there’s nothing more to say except:

Job well done.


1) Although the likes of Matulino, Hurrell and Johnson are getting a lot of the plaudits, the impact of Sam Tomkins should not be understated. He’s played in 5 matches this year — for 5 wins. For whatever reason, the link between Tomkins and Shaun Johnson is streets ahead of the Johnson/Lolohea combination, and the backline really clicks when he’s at the back.

2) The Warriors effectively played with 15 on Saturday night, making the fact that they were still coming home strong even more impressive. Siliva Havili didn’t leave the pine, and Everybody Loves Raymond saw only 9 minutes of action, despite making 55 metres from just 3 runs. With so many 80-minute players in the forward pack, Coach Cappy can really look to use his bench for impact rather than just to give people a rest.

3) Speaking of impact, Charlie Gubb’s energy didn’t go unnoticed by the Mt Smart faithful. The battle between the young forwards at the club to fill the last few bench spots is becoming more and more intriguing every week. The ballerina in footy boots, Sam Lisone, and the Hungry Hungry Hippo, Albert Vete, had the early front-running, but, in recent weeks, Charlie Gubb has grabbed his opportunity with both hands. Already a popular player with the fans, if Gubb can keep his energy at Evian Roller Baby levels, he’s a serious chance to become a fan favourite.

4) What do you have to do to get a penalty? Watching the game live, it certainly felt like the referees were allowing the Raiders to get away with slowing down the speed of the Warriors’ play-the-ball. On review, perhaps it wasn’t as bad, but how Kurt Baptiste isn’t penalised here for not one, not two, but three leg pulls, I’ll never know.

5) Forwards have no chance once Shaun Johnson gets on their outside. It’s clear to anyone who watches rugby league that the Warriors are a much better side when Johnson runs the ball, and, to be honest, I’m starting to worry less and less about which direction he runs. On Saturday night, Johnson ran side-to-side, backwards, forwards and around in circles, and every time he touched the ball it felt like something great was about to happen. Defenders are genuinely scared of what Johnson might do to them — posterisation is a real possibility — and the more Johnson gets his hands on the football, the better this Warriors team will become.

6) Is Chad Townsend the Bendon Man?

Chad Townsend


The Warriors now hold their destiny in their own hands. Currently sitting in 7th spot, only one win outside the Top 4, the men from Mt Smart no longer need to rely on other teams to give them an opportunity. The road to the playoffs isn’t easy, with five out of their remaining nine games against Top 8 sides, but at least the Warriors are in the conversation. For now, they seem to have found a winning formula. Can it continue? Only time will tell. Enjoy the bye, and make sure you rest up — there’s going to be plenty of time for nerves in the coming weeks.


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