Warriors Humming, Cleary Breathing

It’s amazing how things can be so unpredictable in modern-day NRL. Everyone is always talking about the closeness of the competition, how the salary cap has made things so even – than anyone can win on their day.

Well, after the NZ Warriors snuck home on the bell to beat the Bulldogs – 30-24, few could have predicted each teams ladder position after 5 weeks of the 2010 NRL season.

The return to form of the Bulldogs last year under Kevin Moore saw them go from the cellar, to nearly stealing the NRL Premiership on the back of a massive recruitment drive.

But they say a weeks a long time in football, well sometimes months can be like light-years. Fast forward to now, over at the Bulldogs they are struggling to keep a homesick Ben Hannant happy, there is no more Hazem El Masri and it seems they are just lacking cohesion so far.

The Bulldogs certainly had their chance to steal this game, and sure, luck probably went against them in some instances – but they are 1 win from 5 games are starting to look for answers.

But look at the NZ Warriors. The bookies had Ivan Cleary at short odds to be the first coach chopped in 2010. Sources suggested that if Cleary was well off the pace inside the first 8 weeks of the competition – he could be let go early.

If you take a look at the NRL Ladder, Cleary has the Warriors sitting in 5th place on 6 competition points just 2 shy of the joint leaders and the Kiwis have one of the most healthy points differentials in the competition.

What would please NZ fans is the discovery of James Maloney. The young halfback is showing plenty of potential and combined with the renewed confidence the side is showing this year, it’s allowed the likes of Maloney to prosper.

Even someone like Lance Hohaia, who has plenty of potential, is sometimes stunted in the inconsistency of the Warriors. Hohaia in a side like the Storm or Dragons would be a game-breaker week in, week out. However, when the Warriors forwards don’t aim up or their sometimes pass-the-parcel attacking style goes wrong – Hohaia skills are wasted.

But for the time being, they are well positioned and playing some good footy. That habit of winning is just starting to happen for them, they need to make hay while the sunshines.

The only downside is the recurring injury to dominant winger Manu Vatuvei. The man mountain was rushed back this week, but despite being heavily involved early and setting up points – the bigman hobbled off midway through the game and may have an extended stay on the sidelines.

Next week the Warriors host the Panthers and will probably be favourites to topple the visitors in Auckland. Canterbury Bankstown are away to the Wests Tigers and will have a big task on their hands to turn things around against the hot-to-trot Tiggers.

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