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15 Dec 2017 11:51
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Warriors host Raiders after week from hell

    Critics have emerged from left, right and centre to bag the Warriors after last week's NRL loss to Newcastle, but the club is trying to keep optimistic.

    - article from www.rugbyleague.co.nz

    Stephen Kearney
    Stephen Kearney

    It's been the week from hell for the Warriors, but the besieged NRL club are doing their very best to avoid "dragging their bottom lip on the ground" ahead of Sunday's clash with Canberra.

    Criticism of the Aucklanders has been rife following last weekend's 26-10 loss to last-placed Newcastle, the limpest defeat of an already flaky 2017 campaign.

    In what must stir a serious case of deja vu for long-suffering Warriors fans, the club has failed to live up to its potential this season, losing 13 games despite one of the most star-studded rosters in the NRL.

    And with their finals hopes long gone, the chances of a similarly listless display against the Raiders seem high - especially given coach Stephen Kearney's suggestion some players didn't try against the Knights.

    Nevertheless, returning Warriors second-rower Ryan Hoffman insisted his side would try to make their home fans proud and arrest a five-match losing streak.

    They currently sit 12th on the ladder, but a loss against the Raiders could send them as low as 14th and into potential wooden-spoon territory.

    "I don't want to think, is this a terrible moment? Should we be feeling down in the dumps? No. We've got to try and be positive," Hoffman said.

    "Dragging our bottom lip on the ground, thinking this is so bad and blah-blah-blah, it's not going to help us get a result or put in a performance."

    Even Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker, newly re-signed to the club until 2020, admitted the Warriors appear to take more heat than other clubs - even those lower on the ladder, such as the Titans and Tigers.

    Fresh off a crucial 30-12 triumph over Cronulla, Croker's Raiders must win all four of their remaining games - starting with the Warriors and then the Panthers, Knights and Storm - to sneak into the top eight.

    Sunday's clash certainly wouldn't be easy, even taking talisman Shaun Johnson's injury-enforced absence into account for the hosts.

    The Warriors have lost their past 11 matches without the star Kiwi halfback.

    "They always seem to cop it, the Warriors. As soon as they're not winning games, they seem to cop it pretty heavily," the 26-year-old Croker said.

    "They've been under the pump and they've got a few players out as well, so they're going to be desperate to turn the tables.

    "We're expecting a big, fired up team."

    STATS THAT MATTER:

    - The Raiders have traditionally struggled on Kiwi soil, losing nine of their past 12 NRL matches, but won their last match against the Warriors in New Plymouth.

    - A victory against the Warriors will hand Canberra their third consecutive win on the road for the first time in 2017.

    - Should they make the finals, the Raiders' goal-line defence will be a major asset. Their opponents need, on average, more than two sets of six to break down the Raiders in their own 20 - the fourth best in the NRL.


    NZN




    © 2017 NZN, NZCity


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