Cronulla Sharks coach John Morris said the blame for Friday night's 19-18 loss to the Warriors shouldn't be directed at Andrew Fifita, despite the prop's brain explosion and subsequent sin-binning playing a major role in them being run down in Wellington.
With his side ahead by two points with 12 minutes left to play Fifita hit Lachlan Burr late and away from the ball, triggering a penalty in front of the posts and a 10-minute stint in the bin.
The Warriors drew even on the ensuing penalty and then used their numerical advantage to kick a game-winning field goal via Blake Green.
Morris said while Fifita's act had an unfortunate consequence this time around, the intention was right.
"Andrew's obviously trying to do a good thing for the team there and defend with energy and come up with the big play," Morris said.
"Time over again he'd probably just stay in the system as we'd practised and not shoot out and whack that bloke.
"Systematically probably not the way we wanted him to defend on that play.
"Not only the penalty, but to go down to 12 men when we're trying to put the game to bed, [it] was a real challenge for us and certainly a bit of a setback.
"Andrew wears his heart on his sleeve and he's always trying to come up with a big play for the team.
"He's our spiritual leader, he absolutely loves the team and tries to lead from the front.
"But sometimes you've got to think with your head before your heart.
Match: Warriors v Sharks
Round 18 -
Venue: Westpac Stadium
- LIVE PASS
"You've just got to weigh up the situation sometimes.
"Unfortunately he got that intent mixed up there with his game smarts and we got our pants pulled down on it.
"He's hurting ... but it wasn't just that. It was a knock-on effect from a number of things."
The Sharks finished the match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on the wrong end of a 9-4 penalty count, with the Warriors earning six of their points from penalty goals.
Forward Jack Williams may also have a case to answer at the NRL Judiciary next week after being put on report in the 25th minute for a lifting tackle.
While he said he will be reviewing the tape, including the sin-binning of Fifita, Morris conceded his side only had themselves to blame for their fifth straight loss.
"It's a huge call to put someone in the bin at that point in the game," Morris said.
"Briton Nikora makes a break at the back end of the game there and is held down. That should be a penalty to us.
"It gives us a chance to kick a goal to win the game.
"I'm not here to whinge about the referee, although we did have a couple go against us today in a lopsided penalty count.
"I think some of that was pressure put on ourselves with undisciplined play.
"We beat ourselves, it's quite clear.
"I think we finished with nine errors for the game and the Warriors stayed in the fight longer than we did."
Cronulla face a short turnaround before hosting North Queensland on Thursday night in round 19.