Go all the way, Tui! Go on!
There’s Roger, go Roger.
Go Roger! Go Roger!
Wooooooooooooooo!!!! YOU BEAUTY!
Sunday afternoon was no vintage performance — in fact it was a match littered with errors from both sides — but, most importantly, the Warriors left the Central Coast two points richer. After looking the better team for the majority of the game, it took a nugget of Tui Lolohea and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck magic in golden-point extra time to seal the victory. Lolohea broke through the line — something he’d been threatening to do all day — RTS fended off SKD, and, after yet another stressful afternoon, suddenly it was the people of Warrior Nation charging around living rooms and sports bars like headless chooks.
It was the kind of match in which it always felt like the Warriors would win, had enough substance to win. But then the clock went past 70 minutes with the score at 26-28 and you started to wonder if they’d let another opportunity slip through their hands, started to calculate how many more sets of six they’d get before the clock struck 80. Started to sweat. Started to panic. Then there was the frustration of missed field goals, and the Roosters had their own chances to snatch a precious victory. But then, in an instant, everything was good in the world once again.
The men from Mt Smart now find themselves on something called a winning streak — have you ever heard of such a thing? It’s a term that doesn’t sound familiar, but one that has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? There’s still plenty of improvement to be made, but now that we’ve reached the dizzy heights of 10th on the ladder — are you starting to believe?
SET OF SIX
1) What constitutes a professional foul? The Aidan Guerra pull on Ryan Hoffman has created much debate, but I think the bigger question is: How do you get a yellow card in NRL? I’m comfortable with the play not being a penalty try — it’s very hard to say whether Hoffman would have definitely grounded the ball before Latrell Mitchell made it over in cover defence — but does the NRL need some clearer ground rules on when players should receive a yellow card? Deliberate foul play, to prevent the opposition scoring, surely deserves stronger punishment than a simple penalty. But how do you enforce it? Should any foul in the in-goal be a yellow card? Any foul in the act of scoring? Any deliberate action to stop the opposition’s momentum, such as holding down to prevent quick ball after someone has made a line break? Maybe now I’m convincing myself that it should have been a penalty try . . . When every call is subjective, you’re never going to please everyone, but given the NRL is trying to make the obstruction rule more black and white, shouldn’t a similar thing happen with the sinbin?
2) Whatever your thoughts on the Hoffman/Guerra incident, the men from Mt Smart did benefit from some good fortune with a couple of key 50–50 calls going their way at the right time. Just before the first Solomone Kata try, which kickstarted a three-try Warriors surge, the ball came free as Manu Vatuvei was being tackled and play was allowed to continue. Much later in the match, a similar incident with Konrad Hurrell was viewed as six more tackles, and both sides could have been penalised within 20 seconds late in the game when Shaun Kenny-Dowall ran around a teammate before being tackled by Hurrell, who then kicked the ball as he got into the marker position. Again, it probably shows how much interpretation is involved in the adjudication of this great game, but at least it did seem to balance out in the end.
3) There was a stage of the match when it seemed like neither team wanted to win. In a bizarre sequence of events that followed the Sio Suia Taukeiaho try, Mitchell Aubusson broke through and crossed the Warriors line basically untouched. From the kick-off, Dylan Napa knocked-on, resulting in a Warriors try in the following set. Konrad Hurrell then dropped the ball in the first tackle after the restart, and two Warriors penalties led to a Roosters penalty goal. The momentum swung so many times during this game that perhaps a draw would have been a fair result.
4) Which leads me to wonder, should there even be golden point extra time in a regular season match? As exciting as it is to find a winner, is it really necessary?
5) But enough debate, let’s get back to the man of the hour. Surely some part of Andrew McFadden is tempted to let Tui Lolohea loose in the halves. Sunday was more evidence pointing to what a treasure this kid is, and I find it hard to see how the Warriors would be anything but much better off if he touched the ball more. Jeff Robson was brought into the squad to do all the little things right and, while he’s been willing and his presence at halfback shifts Shaun Johnson a little wider and allows him to float around the park, is Robson doing anything that Lolohea couldn’t do?
6) The balance of the interchange bench still seems like a work in progress. Konrad Hurrell and Jazz Tevaga have created good problems for Andrew McFadden in recent weeks by making an instant impact when they take the field, but is there room for both a back-up hooker and a centre? With Tevaga playing lock on Sunday and Hurrell spending time at prop, the Warriors essentially moved to a positionless forward pack, where the deck shuffled depending who was on the field. Maybe that’s a good thing, and I’d hate to see Hurrell miss out, but it will be interesting to see what happens when Bodene Thompson returns to the fold.
Full match highlights