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Warriors out to nail home advantage

The Warriors are banking on a run of home matches after making the NRL's longest trek from Auckland to Perth to guide their quest for a place in the top eight.
Warriors out to nail home advantage
by AAP

By Robert Lowe

AUCKLAND, June 20 AAP - The Warriors are banking on a run of home matches after making the NRL's longest trek from Auckland to Perth to guide their quest for a place in the top eight.

They host Brisbane on Saturday night in the first of three consecutive matches at Mt Smart Stadium.

Coach Andrew McFadden is only too aware of the significance of the stretch which also includes their second bye in four rounds.

"It's a big focus point for us over the next three games," he said.

"We're certainly only dealing with this game at the moment, but it's a great opportunity for us."

Like the Warriors, Brisbane have had a week off, but will have Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett backing up from State of Origin 2, while Queensland teammate Justin Hodges is being rested.

The Warriors have named Maroons prop Jacob Lillyman in their starting line-up.

Their trip to Perth ended in a 34-18 defeat to South Sydney after they conceded five tries in the last 21 minutes.

It was the most points they have given up in McFadden's eight games in charge, which have produced a 4-4 record.

It's something they have been addressing this week, in particular last tackle plays and defusing opposition kicks.

McFadden is aware of Brisbane's own stingy defence, which is the second best in the competition behind leaders Penrith.

"We've got a plan for that," he said.

"It's going to come down to the forward battle. They're a really scrappy team. They compete very hard so that's certainly an area we're going to have to better them at."

The Broncos have momentum on their side after a run of four wins lifted them to fifth on the table, four points and six places above the Warriors.

Apart from Hodges, they will also be without Corey Parker and Andrew McCullough, both in the casualty ward.

The Warriors will be missing injured forward Ben Matulino, who has been in damaging form this season, but they welcome back utility Ben Henry to the bench.

Henry, who missed the Warriors' past two matches with a knee problem, can see similarities between the two sides.

"They chuck the ball around," he said.

"They play footy like us. They're opportunists and every opportunity they can see they will take, so we have to be wary of that and work our butts off to stop it."


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