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.


'There were some dark days' - Jesse Bromwich feared Kiwis career was over after cocaine scandal

Having returned to the Kiwis for the first time in 18 months, Jesse Browmich is relieved to have put last year's cocaine scandal behind him, helping New Zealand to a landmark victory over Australia at Mt Smart Stadium.

Bromwich, 29, along with teammate Kevin Proctor both made their Test returns in last night's 26-24 victory, having been out of international reckoning since last year's cocaine scandal.

The pair were allegedly caught trying to purchase cocaine outside a Canberra nightclub, following the 30-12 loss to Australia in last year's Anzac Test.

At the time coach David Kidwell subsequently decided that neither of the pair would be selected for last year's Rugby League World Cup, having failed to uphold the values of the team. The Kiwis would go on to lose in the quarter-finals to Fiji.

Speaking to Stuff, Bromwich opened up about the relief of being back in the Kiwis' ranks, having feared his Test career was over.

"It was great," Bromwich said. "I was a bit emotional at the start and I'm just happy to be back."

"I'm proud of the boys, how they've gone about their business and how they've welcomed me back in."

Bromwich also spoke of his appreciation for the work of new coach Michael Maguire, who made the decision to recall both him and Proctor.

"There were some dark days, but I spoke to Madge (Maguire) quite a lot before the Denver Test."

"So I knew I was always a chance, because Madge was talking to me at length about which direction he wanted to go.

"So I'm grateful for the opportunity and I can't thank him enough."

Jesse Bromwich
Jesse Bromwich Source: Photosport



'It's only the start' - Kiwis confident of future success after victory over Australia

Despite the Kiwis' 26-24 win over the Kangaroos last night being regarded as a watershed moment for New Zealand Rugby League, coach Michael Maguire is adamant that it's only the beginning of what his new look side can achieve.

Down at halftime, the Kiwis rallied to secure a famous win over their trans-Tasman foes, ending the Kangaroos' 13-Test winning streak in the process - their first success over Australia since 2015.

Speaking at his post match media conference though, Maguire says that his job is now to ensure that such victories can occur on a regular basis.

The 23-year-old was a key figure in the stunning 26-24 win over the Kangaroos. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's very special but I also know it's only the start. We've got to continually back up these type of performances and that's when you can start talking about the team and where we're going," Maguire said.

"It's okay to do it tonight but we've got to reflect that over this next tour. We need to lay the platform and that's what this period of time is all about.

Michael Maguire's side celebrated in style after last night's 26-24 win. Source: Facebook/Richard Becht

"If they're prepared to do what they did this week and keep improving and working hard, then this team can go to a great place.

"It was definitely something I'll remember for the rest of my life and be able to tell my kids, and maybe my grandkids one day."

The Kiwis are next in action when they travel to the UK for a three-Test series against England later this month.



Watch: Kiwis let rip with mighty team song after victory over Australia

The Kiwis celebrated in style after their breakthrough 26-24 win over the Kangaroos in Auckland last night, belting out their team song with pride.

In coach Michael Maguire's first home Test, the Kiwis came from behind to end Australia's 13-match winning streak, holding on to resist a late fightback from the Kangaroos.

Led by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, the Kiwis and their support staff bellowed out their victorious anthem, with spirits high as the team enter their new era.

Michael Maguire's side celebrated in style after last night's 26-24 win. Source: Facebook/Richard Becht


Bromwich, Proctor 'turned adversity into strength' on Kiwis return, says coach

Eighteen months after Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor's illicit substance scandal threatened to kill off their Kiwis careers, Michael Maguire has highlighted them as representative of the side's rebuild.

At a time when New Zealand were being pegged as vulnerable and in danger of being usurped by Tonga, they produced a rousing 26-24 rugby league Test victory over Australia last night.

After a raft of representative retirements and missing the likes of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Issac Luke, the lightly-fancied Kiwis rolled the world champions for the first time in three years.

The Kiwis brand copped a black eye after Bromwich was stripped of the captaincy and he and Proctor were banished from the World Cup after being caught on CCTV snorting a substance off a drug dealer's phone after last year's Anzac Test.

Last night's game was their first back in Kiwis colours and coach Maguire said their ability to come back from a low point in their careers was representative of the character he wanted in his team.

"People like Kevin Proctor and Jesse Bromwich, they've faced adversity and what we saw, to come back in form the way they did," Maguire said.

"A lot of young kids, unfortunately, at some stage make a mistake and those two boys have definitely put their hands up and turned a bit of adversity into strength and where we want to be.

"Both of those boys performed very well."

Michael Maguire said he will consider the pair who were banned from the World Cup after allegedly trying to buy cocaine in May 2017. Source: 1 NEWS

Next Saturday's Test between Tonga and Australia at Mount Smart is already sold out, prompting fears the Mate Ma'a were winning the battles for the hearts and minds of the public in New Zealand.

But the likes of Joey Manu and Brandon Smith proved they were ready to be the faces of a new generation of Kiwis and there was light at the end of the tunnel.

New skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak - who put in an inspired performance against the Australians - said it was up to the side to rebuild their good standing.

"We came into camp to build foundations not only for us going forward but the Kiwis coming through and the kids after that," Watene-Zelezniak.

"We want to give this nation what they deserve.

"I can't really put it into words, we just came together."

Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor have both been recalled to the Kiwis' squad. Source: 1 NEWS