Josh Curran of the Warriors scores a try during the NRL trial match against the Titans. Photos / Photosport
It’s best to always be vigilant about the pre-season NRL trials. Coaches and teams always have specific agendas to work with – rather than just grinding results – and it’s advisable not to get carried away about performance, good or bad.
That’s what happened to the Warriors in the past. The excitement following a 48-4 trial win over the Broncos in 2013 was quickly lost when they lost five of their first seven games and there are several other related examples.
But Saturday’s game against The Titans, which ended in a 12-12 draw, was important. It was the first course for Nathan Brown and the seventh new signing, after significant personnel changes in the low season.
It is also their only preseason chance, after last week’s trial against Storm was canceled due to travel restrictions.
Neither team wants to reveal too much – especially when they face each other in the first round of the NRL season – but it’s time for the latest issue of the Warriors to show something up and it’s quite promising.
They showed good speed and energy and had some bright moments in attack, while their defense improved as the match went on, with some great grabs in the second half.
Both squads have been rusty at times, with the Warriors also losing half-organization Chanel Harris-Tavita, out with a quad injury, and hampered by the loss of bitch Wayde Egan, who left with a shoulder injury after just 15 minutes.
Addin Fonua-Blake’s gigantic brace provides good muscle up front, giving an idea of his ability to cross the line of advantage while Ben Murdoch-Masila creates a 40 meter high statue with his first touch after halftime, and the one-two hit by the twin towers could be something to enjoy, if they can also bring discipline in defense.
Perhaps the new player chosen was the former Dragons midfielder, Euan Aitken, who took some powerful punches and displayed a willingness to get involved, as well as the defensive initiative.
Bunty Afoa and Leeson Ah Mau are again welcomed, having barely been seen in 2020 due to injuries. Second rower Bayley Sironen demonstrated his versatility, turning to prostitutes in the second half.
The Titans got their best of the opening quarter, with two attempts in four minutes, to Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Jarrod Wallace. When he played for Queensland and Storm last season, strong Fa’asuamaleaui was tough to deal with through midfield.
Sean O’Sullivan and Nikorima teamed up well to send Josh Curran across in the 29th minute and the Warriors should have extended their lead before halftime, unable to capitalize on four straight sets on the Titans line.
The Warriors were sharper after halftime and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s sharp break sent Jazz Tevaga under the post just before the hour mark.
That shows what is possible when Tuivasa-Sheck gets the ball up front, which is the hope for 2021.
Brown vacated the bench for the last 20 minutes, with several young players gaining playing time. A formidable defensive play from Map Hiku stopped certain attempts from former teammate Patrick Herbert, while the Warriors did very well to withstand the continuing pressure in the final 10 minutes.
Soldier 12 (J Curran, J Tevaga tries; K Nikorima 2 goals)
Titans 12 (T Fa’asuamaleaui, J Wallace tries; J Fogarty 2 goals)
First Half: 6-12