Warriors warm up for NRL season with strong display in trial win over Wests Tigers
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/110983424/-

2019-03-02 08:48:24

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has a difficult decision to make over the next two weeks after his two rookie halves wrapped up preparations for the 2019 season with little between them.

The Auckland club produced an impressive all-round display in beating the Wests Tigers 26-16 in their second and final trial at Northland Events Centre in Whangarei.

Wingers Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu'a both grabbed doubles, with their powerful charges out of the backfield playing an integral role in laying a strong foundation in the middle.

Kearney praised his side's calmness in both attack and defence. Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was heavily involved, while halfback Blake Green's control was clear to see after last week's solid yet scrappy win over Melbourne.

But as for whether it will be Adam Keighran or Chanel Harris-Tavita that will partner Green in the halves in round one against the Bulldogs, the coach was keeping his cards close to his chest.

"I thought they did pretty well today, I was pleased for them both," Kearney said. "They've worked really hard on their game with 'Stace' (assistant coach Stacey Jones) and they were pretty good today.

"Once we've had a close look at the game and have a feel for what we think is going to best suit the footy team for round one, then we'll make a decision."

Keighran started the game in the No 6 jersey and was brought down a metre short of opening the scoring after running onto an Isaiah Papali'i offload.

He was replaced midway through the first half for Harris-Tavita, whose best moment of the match came shortly after when he took on the line and provided a nice ball to put Peta Hiku in space on the way to Maumalo's second try.

With Green off, they teamed up in the second half and while Harris-Tavita may have had a slightly busier performance, the final call is likely come down to the work put in behind the scenes.

With Shaun Johnson long gone, much is expected of Tuivasa-Sheck on attack this season. And he played a key role in the opening two tries, including a superb cut-out pass to send Fusitu'a over untouched on the right flank.

The performance was marred slightly by two late tries to the Tigers, while a hamstring injury robbed Northland-born Adam Blair the chance to play in front of his home crowd.

It was a precautionary move after the former Kiwis skipper pulled up with some tightness after Friday's captain's run, but he is expected to be fit for the season-opener.

Overall, Kearney was satisfied with the display.

"When you have a full compliment [of players] out there... we have an expectation that we should be better than we were last week, and I thought we were," he said.

"We had some good parts to the performance but there's still plenty to work on. There was a couple of areas where we  gifted them momentum back into the contest but for the most part I was fairly happy."

Warriors 26 (Ken Maumalo 2, David Fusitu'a 2, Adam Pompey tries; Chanel Harris-Tavita 2, Adam Keighran goals) Wests Tigers 16 (Luke Brooks, Luke Garner, Esan Marsters tries; Marsters 2 goals). HT: 14-6.

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