Missed opportunities and numerous doses of self-inflicted pressure are what Warriors coach Andrew McFadden suggested were the source of Sunday’s 22-12 loss to the ladder-leading Sea Eagles.
For a fourth-straight game his side crossed for a try in the opening 10 minutes to lead, but couldn’t capitalise as the Sea Eagles showed the class that has them on top of the NRL ladder.
The New Zealanders squandered several first-half scoring chances and in the second period got over the line twice only to be denied by the match officials on both occasions.
“We didn’t take our opportunities and the opposition did,” McFadden said.
“I am disappointed with the result but there is plenty we can work off there.
“When they got their opportunities they took them. We had more than enough opportunities to win the game tonight, we just weren’t quite good enough.”
With halfback Shaun Johnson forced to withdraw from the game due to a groin injury, and Feleti Mateo failing to recover from a calf complaint sustained mid-week, the Warriors were poor on last-tackle plays.
Five-eighth Chad Townsend, who assumed the primary playmaking duties in Johnson’s absence, was poor off the boot, sending several kicks dead in goal with other options available.
The Warriors forced repeat sets on two occasions, only one fewer than their opponents, but the accuracy of Johnson – who led in the NRL in dropouts forced heading into the round – was clearly missed.
“Our last plays probably weren’t as good as they have been tonight, but we can fix that,” McFadden said.
“They were the cards we were dealt tonight, I am still really happy with the players’ effort considering the circumstances.
“We lost Shaun overnight and I thought the guys that stepped in did a great job.
“We gave ourselves a chance but they are a high-quality team.
“[There were] a few bounces of the ball where if we had got over the line things might have been a bit different, but as it turns out we just fell a bit short tonight.”
Captain Simon Mannering, who scored his ninth try of the season and clocked up 23 tackles in the back-row, conceded that the lack of execution was unacceptable against a quality side like the Sea Eagles.
“We got fairly close a couple of times in that second half but probably shot ourselves in the foot a few times,” he said.
“We were coming close but they are a good side and were coming up with some big plays defensively, we just couldn’t quite get there.
“When they put their plays on they put them on 100%. They run the right lines and put you under pressure.”
The loss sees the Warriors slump to back-to-back defeats for the first time in three months of football, and with other results going against them has seen the Kiwi side drop out of the top eight.
It also continued a worrying trend of positive starts being wasted by concentration lapses in the final 20 minutes of first halves, but McFadden remained adamant that the issues were easily addressed.
“We knew they were going to come back, possession and momentum always swings,” the first-year coach said.
“[But] it is disappointing that we didn’t hold them out when that did go against us.”
McFadden also confirmed that the injuries to Johnson and Mateo were not serious, and they were a chance of returning for next week’s trip to Canberra, where the Warriors have tasted victory only twice in their 19-year history.