RTS is a metres machine and the short goal-line drop out is a weapon: Five things to take away from Warriors v Knights

After last night's win over the Knights at home, the Warriors are poised to make their return to the NRL playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. Here's what we learned from the 20-4 victory.

1. RTS is a metre-making machine

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has taken "lead by example" to a whole new level this season for the Warriors.

The captain is averaging just over 180m for the season and saw that increase plenty after last night's 338m performance. He leads the NRL in kick return metres with 1,091m for the season and is third in overall running metres with 3,490m.

His ability to produce attacking chances from nothing with his step and acceleration was in full display last night and can be a game changer going forward.

2. The second half curse is broken

Assistant coach Stacey Jones said after the halftime chat (they led 12-4 at the time) the message to the boys was to set the tempo early in the second half and not flounder like they had the last three weeks where they'd failed to score any points in the second 40 minutes.

They did just that.

The Warriors absolutely dominated territory in the second half and it wasn't just with RTS' runs. The Knights were continuously pinned down in their half with sub-40m sets and it wore them out.

At games end, the Warriors had a 700m advantage in metres gained over Newcastle. Most of that came in the second 40.

3. Blake Green is the level-head the Warriors need

Shaun Johnson's game has opened up this season but the major reason it works is because he has a composed veteran alongside him helping out.

Blake Green's ability to read the game and understand the options available late in the set was on full display last night, leading to a stellar solo try in the second half. But even before that, he used all his knowledge to put the Knights' line in disarray and free up Johnson who in turn gave it to Fusitu'a to finish in the right corner.

Add in a sound kicking game (he leads the NRL in 40/20s) and the Kiwi club has a sound veteran who will prove a big asset in playoffs footy.

4. The short goal-line dropout is a weapon - for now

The Warriors were forced into two goal-line dropouts last night by the Knights. Twice Johnson went short. Twice Fusitu'a rose up to contest it. Twice the Warriors recovered the ball.

The Warriors have been employing the short dropout frequently as of late and had a lot of success with it. That sends two messages. One. They're confident it'll work. Two. They're confident in their defence if it doesn't.

That latter point is the more interesting one and it could be a big difference in the long run. Coming into playoff season, top eight clubs are going to study that play and come up with counters to it so whether it remains as potent as it is now remains to be seen.

5. It's just a matter of faith

Sure, it's not set in stone that the Warriors are in the playoffs just yet with the Tigers still giving chase but last night's win means they will finish round 22 no lower than seventh.

The Broncos' loss to the Cowboys has dropped them to eighth and should the Sharks lose to the Storm tonight, the Warriors will sneak ahead of them to sit sixth.

There's only three rounds left after this week before finals footy with two of those matches taking place at Mt Smart - a win on either occasion against the Panthers or Raiders will seal it or they could get the job done away against the Bulldogs next week.

Either way, the seven year wait looks over. It's just a matter of faith.



Watch: Issac Luke's whānau and friends deliver moving haka from the stands to celebrate 250th NRL game

Warriors hooker Issac Luke brought up an impressive milestone during last night's win over the Knights and friends and whānau in attendance made sure to acknowledge it afterward with an emotional haka from the stands.

Luke made his 250th NRL appearance in last night's 20-4 victory at Mt Smart Stadium. 

Before the match, the Warriors and Kiwis hooker was given the honour of leading his team out alongside his children, giving daughter Avarni a kiss on the forehead after they'd made it onto the pitch.

But Luke's family made sure to make the end of the night just as special, showing their respect to the 31-year-old with a haka after fans had left the stands and made their way to the exit.

Luke joined in the haka and waved thank you to his support crew afterward before he was embraced by captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on the field.

The Warriors star and the South Sydney owner formed a close bond during Luke’s time at the Rabbitohs. Source: 1 NEWS

Luke played 190 games for the South Sydney Rabbitohs since making his NRL debut in 2007 before joining the Warriors in 2016 where he has played his most recent 60 matches.


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'The club's growing nicely' - Ivan Cleary rejects Penrith to stay with Tigers

Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary has ended speculation about a move to Penrith by confirming he would see out the remainder of his contract at the NRL club.

In a prepared two-minute statement, Cleary said he was not aware that Penrith would discuss their coaching future at a recent meeting with Panthers chairman Dave O'Neill.

He said no offer had been made to come back to his former club, and that he immediately informed Tigers bosses about the Panthers' approach.

"I advised the Panthers of my ongoing contract status with the Wests Tigers," Cleary said ahead of his team's crucial NRL clash with Canberra.

"I subsequently advised the chair and CEO of the Wests Tigers of the discussions I'd had with the Panthers."

Cleary, who refused to take further questions on the matter, said he was surprised by Penrith's decision to fire Anthony Griffin earlier this week.

Then he allayed any concerns about serving the final two years of his current deal.

"I am enjoying my contribution at this club. The club's growing nicely. Everyone associated with this club should be proud of the direction it's heading in," he said.

"I respect all the people and supporters involved with this club and I intend to honour this contract."

Cleary's comments means the Panthers will be forced to look elsewhere to fill their coaching vacancy next season.

Penrith chief executive Brian Fletcher this week said the club would be willing to wait two years before asking Cleary to return and unite with son Nathan.

The NSW playmaker has one more year to serve on his deal at the Panthers but is able to field offers at the end of this season, including a possible move to the Tigers.

Cleary reiterated his desire to work with Nathan at some stage during their careers.

"It is common knowledge that my son Nathan and I have acknowledged our desire to work together at some time. That remains the case," he said.

"Today I'm absolutely focused on our match with the Canberra Raiders and I'm happy to take questions around that game."

Ivan Cleary.
Waest Tigers coach Ivan Cleary. Source: AAP


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