Warriors feel pain after cruel defeat

One less mistake is all that stood between his side and a huge upset victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday night, according to Warriors coach Andrew McFadden.

Instead of celebrating a perfect start to his career as an NRL coach, McFadden was left ruing missed opportunities after his team went down 21-20, following a late Trent Hodkinson field goal.

“We only had to make one less mistake and we probably would have got there,” McFadden said.

“It is very disappointing, obviously. I think the players threw everything they could, but ultimately I think we let ourselves down with execution.”

Despite having plenty of bad luck go their way in the Eden Park contest, McFadden was adamant there were no excuses for losing a match where they lead by eight points heading into the last 14 minutes.

The Warriors suffered first-half injuries to two key forwards, Sebastine Ikahihifo and Ben Matulino, with neither able to return. Ikahihifo suffered a head knock and was ruled out by the club doctor at half-time, while Matulino sustained a rib injury.

The loss of Matulino was particularly significant given that he had set up the opening two tries of the match with clever offloads.

“It certainly had a big impact on our strategy around our interchanges, but Sam Rapira and Jacob Lillyman did a pretty good job of making up that time that we needed, so it certainly wasn’t an excuse for getting beat,” McFadden said.

In addition to being down on troops for the majority of the match, the Warriors also had to cop a dubious penalty call with five minutes to go, after it was ruled Sam Tomkins had stayed in the tackle too long after Josh Reynolds broke free.
The successful penalty kick which followed set the scene for the match-winning field goal three minutes later.

“To be honest I am not sure if it was a fair penalty or not,” McFadden said.

“It has happened, we can’t do anything about it. I thought we still had our opportunities to win that game so that’s what I will be focusing on.”

Captain Simon Mannering, who celebrated re-signing with the club for a further four years with a try, said despite the loss things were looking up for the under-siege Warriors.

“It would have been nice to get a result but it’s good we made steps forward in our performance,” the second-rower said.

“Hopefully we can see that in training next week ahead of the Dragons game.

“It felt like when we stuck to what our plan was we built some pressure and managed to score some points, it was when we went outside of that that we let them into the game.”

McFadden agreed, stating that this week was just the beginning of the journey to where the club intended to be.

“I have got a pretty clear thought in my head how we need to go and this week was sort of just one step in that direction. It is just a start for us,” he said.

The Warriors now sit 15th on the competition ladder with a 2-4 record.