Run Roger Run

For anyone who hasn’t seen it, Run Lola Run is a 1998 German movie that explores a number of different themes through a recurring sequence of events in which Lola has 20 minutes to save her boyfriend’s life. One of those key themes is how much chance can impact one’s destiny, how the smallest deviation in timing or action can have a major impact on the final outcome. Today, we replay some key moments from the past two months of the Warriors season, to examine how different things might look with only a few small tweaks to history.

 


It’s Friday 29 June and the Warriors are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time since Round 5. The Kiwis game in Denver has created disruptions to the build-up, but, crucially, Issac Luke has been cleared to play. A win tonight would be a big step towards a Top 4 spot, something almost no one saw coming at the beginning of 2018.

With five minutes to go, it’s all locked up at 14-all, but off the back of a penalty and strong carries from Simon Mannering and Issac Luke, Shaun Johnson slots a drop goal and the men from Mt Smart hit the front! From the kick off, the Warriors march back downfield and Blake Green puts up a towering bomb. Valentine Holmes spills it, Issac scoops it up and dives over under the posts! Warrior Nation erupts! But he was offside: 15–14 it remains.

As time ticks away, the Sharks are on attack. Matt Moylan sets for the drop goal, but Agnatius Paasi charges it down! The ball rebounds to Simon Mannering, who bobbles it. Sharks’ ball. They quickly spread it wide, and Edrick Lee touches down in the corner. The crowd shouts forward pass and we hold our breath, waiting for the referee to blow his whistle, but the try is given. It’s a travesty — the Sharks/match officials have stolen two points from Mt Smart.

Fast forward to Sunday 29 July and the Warriors are on the Gold Coast after a topsy-turvy month of results. The tough loss to the Sharks was followed by a capitulation at Penrith and an epic bounce back win against the Broncos, before a tight loss at home to the Storm. At halftime, they lead 12–8. A big second half could do a lot to improve their poor for-and-against.

Instead, what follows is a collapse more frustrating than any other this season — and that’s saying something as there has been more than enough already. Down 12–20 midway through the second half, the Warriors have chances to steady the ship, but an AJ Brimson try put a halt to any comeback, and to rub salt into the wound, Phillip Sami ‘Tuivasa-Shecked’ RTS. A season that promised so much is quickly unravelling.

It’s Sunday 19 August and, despite the hiccups of the past two months, a win for the Warriors against the Bulldogs would keep them in the hunt for a Top 4 spot. As the game begins, they appear a little below their best, but when the attack clicks into gear, it feels as though they could break the game open at any minute. A few minutes before halftime, the Titans contest a bomb and Blake Green dives on it. ‘Penalty’ shouts the referee. ‘Why?’ asks Shaun Johnson. ‘Roger never touched it. Take a look at the screen.’ He’s right, but it’s too late. The Bulldogs have kicked the goal and lead 14–12. The Warriors switch off and the Dogs strike, running 70 metres to score under the posts and push the halftime deficit out to 8. The Warriors fight back, dominating possession and territory in the second 40, but never take the lead. A long-range drop goal from birthday boy Lachlan Lewis seals a Dogs’ win at the death and leaves the Warriors still scrapping for a playoff spot. This one will go down as a major missed opportunity.


It’s Friday 29 June and the Warriors are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time since Round 5. The Kiwis game in Denver has created disruptions to the build-up, but, crucially, Issac Luke has been cleared to play. A win tonight would be a big step towards a Top 4 spot, something almost no one saw coming at the beginning of 2018.

With five minutes to go, it’s all locked up at 14-all, but off the back of a penalty and strong carries from Simon Mannering and Issac Luke, Shaun Johnson slots a drop goal and the men from Mt Smart hit the front! From the kick off, the Warriors march back downfield and Blake Green puts up a towering bomb. Valentine Holmes spills it, Issac scoops it up and dives over under the posts! Warrior Nation erupts! But he was offside: 15–14 it remains.

As time ticks away, the Sharks are on attack. Matt Moylan sets for the drop goal, but under pressure from Agnatius Paasi, he shanks it to the right and over the dead-ball line. The Warriors make the most of the seven-tackle set to run out the clock and seal a hard-fought victory and position themselves well for a run at the Top 4.

Fast forward to Sunday 29 July and the Warriors are on the Gold Coast after a month of tight fixtures. The win against the Sharks was followed by a narrow loss at Penrith and an epic bounce-back win against the Broncos, before a 14–12 loss at home to the Storm. At halftime, they lead the Titans 12–8. A big second half could do a lot to improve their poor for-and-against.

Instead, what follows is a collapse more frustrating than any other this season. Down 12–20 midway through the second half, the Warriors have chances to steady the ship, but they are their own worst enemy today with a series of errors. To rub salt into the wound, Konrad Hurrell scores a second-half hat trick while Solomone Kata misses tackle after tackle and Warrior Nation wonders what might have been. A season that promised so much has hit a major speed bump.

It’s Sunday 19 August and, despite the up-and-down nature of the past two months, a win for the Warriors against the Bulldogs would keep them in the hunt for a Top 4 spot. As the game begins, they appear a little below their best, but when the attack clicks into gear, it feels as though they could break the game open at any minute. A few minutes before halftime, the Titans scramble to secure a grubber, but Gerard Beale dives on it. ‘Penalty’ shouts the referee. ‘Why?’ asks Shaun Johnson. ‘I never touched it. Take a look at the screen.’ He’s right, but it’s too late. The Bulldogs have kicked the goal and lead 14–12. The Warriors switch off again and the Dogs strike, running 70 metres to score under the posts and push the halftime deficit out to 8. The Warriors fight back, dominating possession and territory in the second 40, but never take the lead. A long-range drop goal from birthday boy Lachlan Lewis seals a Dogs’ win at the death. This one will go down as a major missed opportunity, but two wins at home could still secure at least a home playoff game in Week 1 of the finals.


It’s Friday 29 June and the Warriors are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time since Round 5. The Kiwis game in Denver has created disruptions to the build-up, but, crucially, Issac Luke has been cleared to play. A win tonight would be a big step towards a Top 4 spot, something almost no one saw coming at the beginning of 2018.

With five minutes to go, it’s all locked up at 14-all, but off the back of a penalty and strong carries from Simon Mannering and Issac Luke, Shaun Johnson slots a drop goal and the men from Mt Smart hit the front! From the kick off, the Warriors march back downfield and Blake Green puts up a towering bomb. Valentine Holmes spills it, Issac scoops it up and dives over under the posts! Warrior Nation erupts! But he was offside: 15–14 it remains.

As time ticks away, the Sharks are on attack. Matt Moylan sets for the drop goal, but Agnatius Paasi charges it down! The ball rebounds to Simon Mannering, who gathers it safely and the Warriors run out the clock and seal a hard-fought victory and position themselves well for a run at the Top 4.

Fast forward to Sunday 29 July and the Warriors are on the Gold Coast after a month of tight fixtures. The win against the Sharks was followed by a narrow loss at Penrith and an epic bounce-back win against the Broncos, before a 14–12 loss at home to the Storm. At halftime, they lead the Titans 12–8, before kicking clear early in the second half and cruising to a comfortable 26–12 victory. Harsh critics argue that taking the foot off the gas in the final 15 minutes might prove costly in the final wash-up, as points differential could play a major role in determining the final playoff seedings, but the Warriors remain firmly in contention for the Top 4. Who knows, if things break their way, maybe they could climb even higher.

It’s Sunday 19 August and, with other playoff contenders stumbling around them, a win for the Warriors against the Bulldogs could vault them all the way to the top of the table. As the game begins, they appear a little below their best, but when the attack clicks into gear, it feels as though they could break the game open at any minute. A few minutes before halftime, the Titans contest a cross-field kick and Shaun Johnson dives on it. ‘Penalty’ shouts the referee. ‘Why?’ Johnson asks. ‘Fus never touched it. Take a look at the screen.’ He’s right, but it’s too late. The Bulldogs have kicked the goal and lead 14–12. The Warriors switch off again and the Dogs strike, running 70 metres to score under the posts and push the halftime deficit out to 8. The Warriors fight back, dominating possession and territory in the second 40, but never take the lead. A long-range drop goal from birthday boy Lachlan Lewis seals a Dogs’ win at the death. This one will go down as a major missed opportunity, but the Top 4 is still within reach. Two wins at home should do it.


It’s Friday 29 June and the Warriors are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time since Round 5. The Kiwis game in Denver has created disruptions to the build-up, but, crucially, Issac Luke has been cleared to play. A win tonight would be a big step towards a Top 4 spot, something almost no one saw coming at the beginning of 2018.

With five minutes to go, it’s all locked up at 14-all, but off the back of a penalty and strong carries from Simon Mannering and Issac Luke, Shaun Johnson slots a drop goal and the men from Mt Smart hit the front! From the kick off, the Warriors march back downfield and Blake Green puts up a towering bomb. Valentine Holmes spills it, Issac scoops it up and dives over under the posts! Warrior Nation erupts! But he was offside: 15–14 it remains.

As time ticks away, the Sharks are on attack. Matt Moylan sets for the drop goal, but Agnatius Paasi charges it down! The ball rebounds to Simon Mannering, who bobbles it. Sharks’ ball. They quickly spread it wide, and Edrick Lee touches down in the corner. Some in the crowd shout forward pass, while the rest of us hold our breath. The referee puts his hand to his earpiece for what seems like an eternity, but then Warrior Nation rises to its feet in celebration. Forward pass, scrum Warriors! The players run out the clock as we breathe a sigh of relief. A hard-fought victory that positions the club well for a run at the Top 4.

Fast forward to Sunday 29 July and the Warriors are on the Gold Coast after a month of tight fixtures. The win against the Sharks was followed by a narrow loss at Penrith and an epic bounce-back win against the Broncos, before a 14–12 loss at home to the Storm. At halftime, they lead the Titans 12–8, before kicking clear early in the second half and going on with the job. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck seals a 44–12 win with an 80-metre try that will surely be a contender for try of the year. In what was a big boost to their points differential, the Warriors look destined for the Top 4. Who knows, if things break their way, maybe they could climb even higher by the end of the regular season.

It’s Sunday 19 August and, with other playoff contenders stumbling around them, a win for the Warriors against the Bulldogs would vault them all the way to the top of the table. As the game begins, they appear a little below their best, but when the attack clicks into gear, it feels as though they could break the game open at any minute. A few minutes before halftime, the Titans contest a bomb and Blake Green dives on it. ‘Penalty’ shout a few Bulldogs’ players, but the referee is unmoved. At halftime, it’s 12-all, but the Warriors continue a recent trend by coming out strong in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Quick tries to Adam Blair and David Fusitu’a give the Warriors a comfortable lead, and they cruise to victory, and an outright lead at the top of the ladder. Two wins at home is all that stands between the men from Mt Smart and a Minor Premiership, and the Air New Zealand website crashes from the sheer volume of searches on Auckland to Sydney flights at the end of September. It sure is an exciting time to live in Warrior Nation.

SET OF SIX

1) Missed opportunity. It feels like a recurring theme of the past few months, but the Bulldogs game represents another missed opportunity for the Warriors. Since rolling off five straight wins to start the season, the men from Mt Smart have taken us on the familiar rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. Despite conceding 27 points, the Warriors will feel like they let this one slip through their fingers after fighting their way back to level in the final minutes. In 8th spot but only four points off the top of the table, is it crazy to think the Warriors could easily have been the minor premiers in 2018?

2) A little bit off. There are plenty of blow-outs in the NRL, but that doesn’t change the fact that anyone can beat anyone on their day. The Warriors weren’t terrible, but the effort, energy, execution, everything, seemed 5–10 per cent off their best, and sometimes that’s all it takes to come away with an L instead of a W.

3) Blake Green penalty. Continuing today’s theme of how small things can have a big impact, the Blake Green penalty late in the first half proved to be the pivotal moment in the game. I’m certain that if the Warriors go into the sheds at halftime with the score at 12-all, they pull away comfortably in the second half and cruise to an easy win. Instead, they found themselves 8 points behind, a margin that proved a fraction too far out of reach. That single injustice doesn’t excuse the defensive lapses that led to conceding 27 points, but perhaps strengthens the call for a Captain’s Challenge to be introduced sooner rather than later.

4) Fus fastest to 50. The result wasn’t what we all hoped for against the Bulldogs, but it’s still important to recognise David Fusitu’a reaching 50 tries for the club faster than anyone has before. The Fus has improved steadily throughout his career, before a breakout 2018 that has him among the best finishers in the game. Now that Fusitu’a has signed a 5-year deal, could he one day pass Big Manu’s record 152 tries for the club?

5) Ins and outs. In team news this week, Tohu Harris looms as a big inclusion, but the injury to Blake Green is concerning, especially in what shapes as such a crucial fixture (more on this in a moment). Mason Lino has done an excellent job filling in whenever there has been an injury in the halves, but Green’s steadying presence seems to make the players around him better, most notably Shaun Johnson. With Green out of the lineup, will Johnson have to carry more of the playmaking and kicking load, and will this have a negative impact on his ability to break the game open with his fast feet?

6) Home playoff game or squeaky bum time? By the time Friday rolls around, the Warriors will either find themselves cemented in the Top 8 or be hearing the footsteps of the Tigers in the distance. But regardless of what happens behind them, and despite the frustration of recent losses to the Titans and Bulldogs, the men from Mt Smart still hold their fate in their own hands. Win against Penrith, and then again the following week against the Raiders, and they give themselves a great chance at finishing 6th and filling up Mt Smart in Week 1 of the finals. Lose this week, however, and they could very well find themselves fighting for survival in a week’s time.

FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

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