With just three rounds left in their regular season, the One New Zealand Warriors are close to matching the club’s best efforts in the New South Wales Cup.
Lying second on 29 points, they again line up in a double header with the NRL side when they face the Western Suburbs Magpies in Saturday night’s early game at FMG Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
They’re on the same bill as the NRL team again when they face the in-form Sea Eagles on Friday, August 18, before finishing their regular season campaign away to the St George Illawarra Dragons on August 26.
The Warriors were second on 36 points in 2017, when they had 13 wins, four draws and five losses, before falling one win short of the grand final. They also finished second on 37 points in 2011 with 16 wins, a draw and six losses and went all the way to the decider only to lose 28-30 when Canterbury Bankstown scored in the last seconds.
After 21 rounds, the Slade Griffin-coached 2023 side has 12 wins, a draw and eight losses with 550 points scored (the second best in the competition) and 410 conceded (the third best).
Match: Warriors v Magpies
Round 24 -
Fullback for Warriors is number 2 Setu TuFullback for Magpies is number 1 Israel Ogden
Winger for Warriors is number 3 Moala Graham-TaufaWinger for Magpies is number 2 Sione Hopoate
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Viliami VaileaCentre for Magpies is number 3 Josh Feledy
Centre for Warriors is number 20 patrick moimoiCentre for Magpies is number 4 Tommy Talau
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Edward KosiWinger for Magpies is number 5 Liam Scolari
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Eiden AcklandFive-Eighth for Magpies is number 6 Triston Reilly
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Ronald VolkmanHalfback for Magpies is number 7 James Valevatu
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Tom AleProp for Magpies is number 8 Aitasi James
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Freddy LussickHooker for Magpies is number 9 Tom Freebairn
Prop for Warriors is number 21 Bunty AfoaProp for Magpies is number 10 Tukimihia Simpkins
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Selumiela Halasima2nd Row for Magpies is number 11 Brandon Mansfield
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Kalani Going2nd Row for Magpies is number 12 Jack Boyling
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Demitric SifakulaLock for Magpies is number 13 Justin Matamua
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Paul RoacheInterchange for Magpies is number 14 James Roumanos
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Michael SioInterchange for Magpies is number 15 Kit Laulilii
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Jacob LabanInterchange for Magpies is number 16 John Tuivaiti
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Zyon Maiu'uInterchange for Magpies is number 18 Aden Perry
Replacement for Warriors is number 8 Tanner Stowers-SmithReplacement for Magpies is number 19 Semisi Kioa
The One New Zealand Warriors are coming off a key 26-14 win over defending premiers the Penrith Panthers last weekend, their fourth win in their last five matches.
They’ve suffered a setback, though, losing two of their main fullback options this week.
Taine Tuaupiki is again with the NRL side covering for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (concussion) while Ben Farr is also sidelined with concussion after leaving the field early in the second half last Saturday. That sees Geronimo Doyle named to start at fullback.
The rest of the starting line-up named is the same as the one used against the Panthers.
There’s a key change on the bench with hooker Paul Roache making his comeback from a foot injury which has kept him out since round 10.
The Magpies have slipped to 11th on the ladder, six points behind eighth-placed Penrith, after losing their last three matches but in round five in early April they handed the Warriors their first defeat of the season (22-10).
Western Suburbs has named a halves combination with solid NRL experience in Brandon Wakeham and Will Smith while the pack includes 2023 Māori All Stars prop Tukimihia Simpkins with 45-game NRL centre Tommy Talau named plus former Warriors junior Israel Ogden at fullback.