In Foran’s absence the Warriors recorded their third win in their past four matches against the Bulldogs last Friday and are now preparing to face the in-form Sea Eagles in Perth sitting just two points outside the Telstra Premiership top eight.A quadriceps injury that he sustained in Round 14 is not expected to stop Foran from lining up against his former team who have moved into fourth position on the back of four straight wins, their latest a convincing victory over defending premiers Cronulla.The Warriors have featured in eight matches in Perth since 1996 and have incredibly never recorded a win despite enjoying a healthy proportion of the local support.Foran’s likely return will help to somewhat offset the loss of hooker Issac Luke who suffered a dislocated shoulder against the Bulldogs with the Kiwi five-eighth determined to continue the progress the team has made in the last month.Having issued Foran a career lifeline when personal issues forced him to stand down from playing with the Eels last year, the Warriors were devastated when it was announced the 26-year-old would be joining the Bulldogs in 2018 but he insists that he wants to leave on a good note.”Every year you want to do well but this year means a lot to me personally,” Foran told NRL.com.”The Warriors reached out to me when I was in a struggling time in my life and it means a lot for me to be able to play some of my best footy and really give back to the fans and the club.”They’ve been great to me over in New Zealand. The people of New Zealand have really supported me.”Besides last year when the Titans squeezed into September football with 27 points, 28 has been the magic number for teams to qualify for the top eight, leaving the Warriors the task of winning at least five of their last nine games to play finals for the first time since 2011 when Foran’s Sea Eagles defeated them in the grand final.Only four of those nine matches are against teams currently in the top eight but sneaking into the top eight with the strength of their roster is not enough according to Foran.In 10 games this season the Warriors have run out with the New Zealand spine from the mid-year Test and been victorious five times and Foran knows they can’t let the opportunity available to them slip through their fingers.”It doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be successful just because you’ve got a great roster but it certainly helps having the quality of players that we do have,” Foran admitted.”It’s just about as a team putting in those 80-minute performances.”It’s been a little bit frustrating, not being able to find that consistency week in, week out because we know we’re a better football team than what we’ve showed.”If we get it right and we do put together an 80-minute performance we can win games of footy.”We believe that we can achieve something this year and we’re going to leave no stone unturned to try and do that.”We’ve got to keep winning. If we want to make something of this year we’ve got to keep getting the two points. It’s not going to get any easier but the belief is strong.”As a club we want to make sure we can give this thing a really good crack this year.”Obviously that’s something for me personally that would be great to have a successful year but I just think as a team and the big picture, we really want to try and do something this year.”Whilst Warriors teams of the past have been guilty of allowing mistakes to overshadow talent, the 2017 squad under Stephen Kearney boast the best completion rate (78.95 per cent) in the competition through 16 rounds.Yet Friday’s win over the Bulldogs was just the second time this year they have won back-to-back games, Foran admitting their failings have been difficult to pinpoint.”It’s not that we make errors and put ourselves under pressure because our completion rates have been superb all year,” said Foran.”Normally when you’re putting yourself under pressure and you’re letting tries in it’s because you’re making errors and not completing but we’ve been doing that.”That’s been the hard thing for us, pinpointing what causes those lapses. I think at times we just switch off and don’t keep our minds on the job and we leak one try and another try follows and before you know it you’ve let in two or three tries just because one or two of us have switched off.”That’s the key for us moving forward, being stronger in those tough moments but for the full 80 minutes.” Photo by: Dave Lintott/ NRL Photos (Kieran Foran is determined to give back to the Warriors in his only season at the club).
Photo: Supplied/Australian Rugby Union The Fijian Drua found the ball hard to hold on to against the Canberra Vikings. The Drua had arrived in the nation’s capital top of the table after four rounds but the only categories they dominated on Friday night were turnovers conceded and missed tackles.Vikings winger Andy Muirhead scored the opening try in the fourth minute of the match and from there the home side never relinquished their lead, running in ten tries to one.Coach Tim Sampson admitted he was surprised at just how well it went.”It’s a dream, you certainly hope so,” he said of the way the game played out.”But there were things that we focused on during the week when coming up against the Drua and thankfully tonight they did come off.”That’s credit to the players stood out there to execute what we practised during the week.”Despite losing their previous two matches, Sampson felt the team’s performances had been positive and hoped Friday’s result will give the squad “that little bit of extra belief” in how they can play.”We’ve been reasonably happy with how we’re going, especially with our defence, so in attack what was a big focus for us this week and that washolding onto the ball and starving Fiji of possession, which we did quite well,” he said.Queensland Country are the new competition leaders, after thumping Melbourne Rising 54-12, while the top four teams, including Canberra, Perth and the Drua, all have 15 points and are only separted by points differential.All nine teams have managed at least one win in the first five rounds and Tim Sampson believed anyone can beat anyone.The Drua are on the road again this weekend, away to the Greater Sydney Rams.
Genia’s masterclass was a cruel reminder for Reds fans that the star halfback no longer plies his trade at Ballymore but Queensland have far bigger concerns on their plate, with a suspension hanging over new skipper Scott Higginbotham’s head.Higginbotham was shown a red card for a high shoulder charge on Matt Philip in the 10th minute, putting his side on the back foot from the outset.By the letter of the law the decision to send Higginbotham for a particularly early shower may have been the right one as his shoulder did make direct contact with Philip’s head but Higginbotham argued his case that the Rebels lock was falling, with the no. 8 unable to wrap his arms around in the tackle.A suspension would have followed regardless of the colour of the card, but that it was a red ultimately proved game-defining.The Reds hung tough in the 20 minutes that followed and actually crossed for a serendipitous first try through Duncan Paia’aua but it was largely downhill from there.The Rebels, in contrast, took 10 minutes to shake the early nerves but under the guidance of Genia, looked a far more settled side than what was expected, given seven of their starting XV weren’t in Melbourne this time last year.Sefa Naivalu nabbed a first-half double – he collected a suspect Lopeti Timani pass adjudged to be flat before Jack Maddocks threw a crisp cutout to set up the flying Fijian’s second – but it was the playmaking hand of Genia that will have put smiles on Rebels fans’ faces.It was his initiative that created two tries inside six minutes before the half-time siren sounded, sending Tom English over after the forward pack won a penalty against a six-man Reds scrum feed before drawing two men and putting Dane Haylett-Petty over for his first of the night.That sent Melbourne into the sheds up 26-14 and things were well and truly one-way traffic from there.Brad Thorn has preached defence all preseason but there was none of it to be seen when Jack Debreczeni glided over from short range just two minutes into the second term, leaving the Reds staring at a 19-point deficit.The lacklustre defence was followed by a lazy pass from Paia’aua to gift Haylett-Petty a double, the Rebels fullback plucking a flashy no-look pass and racing away to score untouched from 70 out.The 56th minute arrived and Genia’s number was called but not before he set up Debreczeni’s second, Eto Nabuli offering a lazy tackle attempt as the flyhalf trotted over.Feauai-Sautia scored a deserved consolation try with 15 to play but it was too little, too late.The Rebels were mighty impressive in a performance that broke plenty of records, with their highest score ever and the first game in which they have scored more than six tries.Genia and Debreczeni looked as though they had been playing together for years, the forward pack dominated the battle of the gain line and the lineout wreaked havoc with Queensland’s ball.That creates a solid foundation to work with from this point forward but the caveat to all of that is that they only faced 14 men for the majority of the match, making this performance a fair bit harder to gauge.The Reds have an obvious excuse in being a player short for almost 70 minutes but there were some soft tries leaked in the second half and Thorn will have that in his sights come Monday.
In their last two appearances at the Pacific Games in 2007 and 2011, Fiji took out bronze.But coach Charlene Lockington says with the amount of talent and skill her team has, gold is what they will win at the Games.”We had good build up matches playing in Australia, we’re confident but we know not to underestimate any team and that includes PNG.”PNG are a good side but we have beaten them before and we can do it again,’’ said Lockington.