Hopefully James the G man is recovered for next week, that's one rested forward from a bashed pack.
There are two reasons no one wanted Canberra as a pre finals opponent.
1. You probably lose
2. Those big fat bastards bash the shit out of you.
We overcame the losing part but our hull is leaking and the ships taking on water.
Reminds me of the first time we made the finals after a brutal game to draw with the storm round 26 in 2001. Best game the Warriors and Storm ever played.
We went on to lose our maiden final by fifty to Brian Smith's Eels.
None of these teams are as dangerous as a Brian Smith finals side.
Brian is in our corner now ( cant win a GF but the man can get you there).
and Corvo will dial down the training now. Last night was proof that a year of harsh fitness training has worked - the Warriors looked in a different category of fitness to the
Raiders....better able to defend turn over ball and pressure the best attacking side in the comp into making crucial errors in their finishing plays .
On the other hand we saw how the Raiders swarmed our right edge, Shaun Johnson
and Tohu Harris
were heavily marked, Hiku
was being tackled when he pulled off a hail Mary....proving how dangerous and difficult it is to stop those guys....even if you lock them down.
We are way more fluid with Green in any case, his injury is a blessing in disguise ( shout out to Mason is a little hero who has every right to play finals footy).
Our left looks very strong with Kata running a good line last night for a tremendous try.
Funny how they brought Ken in field to get some runs in attacking Red Zone sets...using passing players to give him turns at the ball....a week after getting his contract....he just needs to keep at it with Green giving him ball....he runs like a backrower.....give the kid enough ball he might pull out that nice side step he has....at the moment hes over engineered to play like a battering ram.
For all Jazz
's flaws last night, the big Raiders were having trouble with him, our meters kicked up a gear and Luke was rolling nicely til he got coat hangered....Jazz
gives us a counter effect feel when we are struggling...his use is so unorthodox
Spending a week resting without being flogged at training is enough to recover very fit athletes.
After last nights Horror period (in truth there was nearly eighty minutes of pressure) I.e. when it looked like we were going to lose our stand off and Hooker - Kearney
will be a brave man not to carry a back on his bench this week....hope he holds his nerve.
The thing that stood out last night is that we were ready to counter punch with an attacking team, we went blow for blow and kept our nerve.
In the dying minutes I was talking to my kids saying ' they need to play Chess now ...close this out...get a repeat set'
stood up and steered that side to a finals like victory in a bloody mauling stoush ( you know shits heavy when players are busting sternums, lying smashed on all fours grabbing at their throats, unable to answer a trainer during an on field HIA)....I digress, Shaun Johnson
took us home with an in goal repeat set.
Sure the Raiders pulled off the miracle plays of a drowning man...turn over scrum ball...one on one strips, flutey horrible kicks, but in the end the top eight team closed them out.
Its been a long time ( if ever) since we had a war with the Raiders where in the first battle we had to sniper them with two drop goals in the dying seconds, and then stand up to them when they came to our house seeking vengeance....in my living memory we always lose that 2nd battle.
Mentally I think the Warriors are ready, physically they are ready, it's now in the lap of the Gods as to whether injury toll stops our mission.
They know after last night if they fight to the death, no matter how imperfect their execution is, they have enough to hurt other teams.
Opposition coaches watching that game will be worried, those Warriors are hard to beat.