History repeats as Warriors exit
In the minutes immediately following the Warriors' 34-26 loss to the Wests Tigers in Round 1 this year, captain Ryan Hoffman stood on the Campbelltown Stadium turf and rattled off his thoughts on why his team had suffered the upset defeat.
The former NSW Origin back-rower spoke about his men needing to understand that they have to play for 80 minutes, and highlighted individual errors as a concern.
Fast forward six months and Hoffman found himself giving an almost exact replica of the speech to a handful of Kiwi journalists in the bowels of Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday: "It's realising that you have got to play for 80 minutes… It just came down to individual executions and efforts," he said.
With the Warriors having just gone down to the Tigers 36-24 – a result which ended the Kiwi side's hopes of making the NRL Telstra Premiership finals – Hoffman's rationale perhaps highlights the fact that after 21 games this year, the Warriors have ultimately failed to address and improve on their major shortcomings as a squad.
The Round 25 loss resigns them to a fifth-straight year without finals football, while it is also the fourth time since 2011 that they have lost three or more of their final four games in the season.
Coach Andrew McFadden didn't mince his words post-match.
"We just threw it away to be honest with you," the third-year NRL coach said.
"Tonight's performance was on the back of the last couple, just too many errors and [we] gave away soft points.
"We were too loose, a couple of times we defended really well and made them kick inside their half and then they got a 40/20, and you just can't let that happen at this level, it just changes momentum.
"Diving on loose balls and finishing things off… We were just way too loose tonight.
"You would think we wouldn't talk about it, but we do and it's not good enough at this level.
"It’s really shattering to be honest with you because we got the chance Saturday night (after Penrith beat the Gold Coast 15-14 to keep the Warriors' hopes alive) and we threw it away today."
Twice in the match the home side surrendered leads, giving up an 18-12 advantage at the break and a 24-18 lead with 10 minutes to go.
Crucial errors inside the final 10 minutes where David Fusitu'a dropped a bomb, and opposite winger Manu Vatuvei failed to defuse one aimed in his direction, led to the Tigers scoring points directly afterwards.
A disillusioned Hoffman said they simply didn't display the traits of a top-eight quality side.
"We lapsed, we didn't have that desperation on the try-line, we didn't have that desperation to get the ball, and that is what is you need if you want to be a semi-final football team," Hoffman said.
"You need that urgency and desperation to get the ball and defend your try-line and we didn't do that in the last 10 minutes.
"We are first-grade footballers, you can’t have minutes when we are not on.
"As a team we can’t have moments where we lapse, because we had a lapse down there (in the 56th minute against the Tigers) and Josh Addo-Carr runs 80 metres [to score]."
Across 22 seasons since they entered the competition 1995 the Warriors have now made the finals only 36 per cent of the time.