MATCH UP STATS
Round 8 resultsNew Zealand Warriors: Warriors 10 defeated by Storm 50Wests Tigers: Tigers 22 defeated by Eels 24
5.30pm Saturday May 5, 2018, at Mt Smart Stadium
TWO of the most hyped teams of the opening six rounds of the season meet on Saturday, and the match might go a long way to determining which club is the real deal.
After a red-hot start to the NRL season the New Zealand Warriors have stumbled over the last three weeks, culminating in a punishing 50-10 defeat at the hands of the Melbourne Storm.
The Storm have made a habit of winning the annual ANZAC Day clash against the Warriors, so coach Stephen Kearne will be hoping the capitulation is a 2018 aberration rather than a signal of what’s to come.
The Wests Tigers need to get their season back on track after suffering back-to-back losses against to Newcastle and Parramatta.
Last week’s narrow defeat to the Eels was a bitter pill to swallow for the Tigers, but they still sit in fifth position and could jump as high as second if everything goes their way in round 9.
Following Saturday afternoon we’ll have a better understanding of which team is a legitimate contender and who’s a pretender in season 2018.
Players to watch – Warriors v Tigers
Warriors – Blake Green: The safe as houses Blake Green has been a driving force behind his team’s consistency this season. For a team that has been one of the true Jekyll and Hyde teams of the NRL, Green’s sure ball handling has helped them into third position on the ladder.
Tigers – Benji Marshall: The Kiwi star is almost the opposite of Green, in the best possible way. The man can singlehandedly win a game with a no-look pass or with a well placed kick. The homecoming champ will need a big game if his Tigers are to take the win back across the Tasman.
1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2 David Fusitu’a, 3 Peta Hiku, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Blake Green, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 Bunty Afoa, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Agnatius Paasi, 11 Simon Mannering, 12 Tohu Harris, 13 Adam Blair
Interchange: 14 Karl Lawton, 15 Sam Lisone, 16 Isaiah Papalii, 20 James Gavet
1 Corey Thompson, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Mahe Fonua, 6 Benji Marshall (c), 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Matthew Eisenhuth, 9 Pita Godinet, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Chris Lawrence, 12 Robbie Rochow, 13 Elijah Taylor
Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Josh Aloiai, 16 Michael Chee-Kam, 17 Sauaso Sue
Warriors v Tigers – who will win?
The longer turnaround should prove the decisive factor for the Warriors over the Tigers.
Wests have really struggled to close teams out this season, conceding five second half trys across the last fortnight against less than stellar opposition.
While the Warriors got blown off the park on ANZAC Day, they have had ten days to rectify their mistakes and get fired up for this contest. We think the Warriors will be far too strong for the visitors and should win en route to locking down a top-four spot.
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