General Dogs last tough test for Warriors

sebastian_old

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League: Dogs last tough test for Warriors

5:00AM Saturday March 03, 2007

By Steve Deane

Incumbent five-eighths Jerome Ropati showing his potential in the role - scoring one of his four tries in the final match of last season against Sydney Roosters. Photo / Brett Phibbs
NRL

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary has a pretty good idea what his starting line-up will be for the round one clash with Parramatta in a fortnight's time at Mt Smart, but there are still bench places open for players who shine against the Bulldogs at North Harbour Stadium tonight.

Cleary was reticent about specifics of who might be playing for a spot in the season-opener in tonight's final trial, but he did say his eye would mostly be trained on the big men as he looks to fine-tune his rotation strategy.

"We're not sure what the makeup of the team is going be for round one in terms of the bench and rotation," Cleary said.

"But we should know a bit more after Saturday night, watching a couple of guys to see how they go.

"You've got to take into account match fitness for the big guys - rotation will really come into it. But, in terms of straight-out starters, we are pretty settled."

With the pecking order among the forwards and outside backs fairly well defined, the biggest selection poser ahead of the Eels match is who will start in the pivotal five-eighths position.

Jerome Ropati is the incumbent and has shown glimpses of genuine potential in the role, including a four-try effort in the final match of last season against Sydney Roosters.

Ropati recently inked a two-year contract extension, but he will come under pressure from new signing Michael Witt, whose goal-kicking is an asset Cleary will be keen to use.

"It's likely we'll start with Jerome, but that might be influenced by rotation so we'll wait and see," said Cleary, who has pledged to send out his strongest line-up tonight.

Logan Swann and Nathan Fien are sure to be among the players under the microscope. Cleary will be keen to see how Swann readjusts to the NRL after a three-year hiatus, while Fien, who has just returned to full fitness after playing through a nagging injury for the middle part of last year's tri-nations campaign, will be out to hold off the challenge of a rejuvenated Lance Hohaia in the battle for the hooking role.

Willie Mason and Sonny-Bill Williams headline a Dogs side that is favoured to be among the contenders come September, so Cleary knows tonight's match will provide a fair gauge of where his side is at.

"They [Bulldogs] are always up there. They have got some great players and are a successful club. We have got some very hard games early on, so we'll get an early test on Saturday, which is exactly what we want."

Wing Patrick Ah Van and second rowers Wairangi Koopu and Louis Anderson are still on the injured list, although Anderson is expected to be fit to face the Eels.

Tonight's game may be a trial, but the Warriors are wary of heading into the season proper with just a solitary win against non-NRL opposition. A confidence-boosting victory is high on Cleary's agenda.

"You've got to want to win the game and we certainly want to win it, but I guess it's more important we play well and we get some confidence and combinations," he said.

"We don't want to play badly and fluke a win.

"It is more important to play very well and, if we are beaten on the night, so be it. But we want to win."


North Harbour Stadium, 7.30 tonight

Warriors*: Wade McKinnon, Michael Crockett, Tony Martin, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Jerome Ropati, Grant Rovelli, Ruben Wiki, Nathan Fien, Steve Price (c), Logan Swann, Epalahame Lauaki, Micheal Luck

Interchange: Lance Hohaia, Evarn Tuimavave, Todd Byrne, Michael Witt, Sam Rapira, Corey Lawrie, George Gatis.
* Possible Warriors team

Bulldogs: Luke Patten, Namila Davui, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Trent Cutler, Dallas McIlwain, Ben Roberts, Jarred Hickey, Corey Hughes, Willie Mason, Kane Cleal, Andrew Ryan, S. Williams

Interchange: Lee Te Maari, Adam Perry, Cameron Phelps, Andrew Emelio, Aaron Wheatley, Jon Green, Nick Kouparitsas.
 
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sebastian_old

Guest
Our club has the harderst draw in the NRL, so we gotta start showing some potential otherwise it could be our worst season in the history of our club. If our team doesn't start showing its potential or start gaining confidence starting with tonight, its quite possible we could lose our first 5 games. Seriously trial or not last weeks effort against the cowboys was tragic. Every newspaper report said we dropped the ball constintly, we do that in the real season & only Canberra can save us from the wooden spoon. I do NOT care if we win tonight i just wanna see us be at least competitive against the Bulldogs.
 

tookeytookey_old

Guest
It's 30-6 nearing the end of the game, in favour of the Warriors

Tries: Vatuvei, Crockett, Swann, Fien, McKinnon tries - Martin 5/5, including two from the sideline. McKinnon's try if I read it right was a try straight from the kick off, 100m?
 

tookeytookey_old

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36-6, game over. Last try Todd Byrne, converted from wide out from Tony Martin to give him 6/6.
 

warrior_girl81_old

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yay!! go the warriors!! wish i couldve actually seen it tho. dogs v warriors is always my fav game to watch
 

sebastian_old

Guest
We needed this win SOOOOO bad!!!! Witt MUST be 5/8, Jerome can go where ever, i don't give a hoot. We've needed Witts kicking for a year & now hes a come. By the sounds of things Witt had an outstanding kicking game & surely has proven his worthyness. Great game lads!!
 

moonfire_old

Guest
We needed this win SOOOOO bad!!!! Witt MUST be 5/8, Jerome can go where ever, i don't give a hoot. We've needed Witts kicking for a year & now hes a come. By the sounds of things Witt had an outstanding kicking game & surely has proven his worthyness. Great game lads!!

It was weird watching the Warriors play with the kick on the sixth tackle not going dead. I don't think I have ever seen that actually.
 

sebastian_old

Guest
I agree it would be weird as we've been missing a extra 5th tackle kicker all last year so Witts just showing what our teams capable of with a decent 5/8 to help out. Witt can back up Ravs & we really need that as Wade can't kick like Webby used to be to. All i have to say is can Micheal Witt kick or what, what about the fake bomb to chip, Ropati couldn't do that in his dreams!! Surely Witts position as 5/8 is sown up after last night, for sure!!!
 

shawry_old

Guest
sounds impressive.... dogs had a few names missing but they still had a decent side.... 30 point margin is great for the warriors!
 

WarriorDiva_old

Guest
its a result that we needed leading into round 1
could you imagine the boys confidents if they would of gotsmashed by the cowboys and the bulldogs?
 

Kav_old

Guest
Let's not get carried away - it was only a trial played at home after a big loss.
The team has some new faces in key positions and will need a few games to settle into a pattern. I have faith in Ivan, Steve and Ruben to keep the younger guys' feet on the ground.

Kav
 

Skinny_Ravs82

Guest
I agree it would be weird as we've been missing a extra 5th tackle kicker all last year so Witts just showing what our teams capable of with a decent 5/8 to help out. Witt can back up Ravs & we really need that as Wade can't kick like Webby used to be to. All i have to say is can Micheal Witt kick or what, what about the fake bomb to chip, Ropati couldn't do that in his dreams!! Surely Witts position as 5/8 is sown up after last night, for sure!!!
Yeh are very right there Seb. Spot on.
 

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