League: Warriors gone by halftime

By Peter Jessup


The Warriors worries away from home continue, gone by halftime in the game in Penrith yesterday.

Again, they killed their own chances by failing to hold the ball and by conceding early penalties, thus being forced to defend too much.

In five away games their average score is a 42-22 defeat, whereas at home their average is a 26-14 win, the reasons for the difference unfathomable.

They made way more tackles than the Panthers yesterday and that resulted in them taking dumb options in attack.

The Kiwis secondrower Frank Pritchard was dominant, until interchanged just after the restart and just after scoring his second try to take the halftime score from 22-6 to an impossible 28-6.

Warriors five-eighth Michael Witt could not complete their final training because of the hip injury he received when slipping and skying a kick against Canberra two weeks ago and withdrew.

New hooker Ian Henderson started and under-20s Sonny Fai and Russell Packer got a run. Logan Swann was left out, as the coaching staff sought more impact and intensity up front.

It didn't happen.

The Warriors forwards back-pedalled all day, their marker defence was poor and Penrith found holes where the backrowers should have been.

Henderson said they had no excuses. "We recognised we need to do something about our slow starts but it just didn't happen. There was poor communication, we needed better control in a lot of areas, we were off the pace in the contact and it compounded."

Penrith used utility Luke Lewis at halfback and it worked, Lewis having a direct hand in several of the Panthers' tries.

The first half was a shocker for Warriors halfback Grant Rovelli, whose sins included passing over the sideline and failing to get decent kicks in. His last kick before the break resulted in Penrith skipping out to a 22-6 lead, at a time when the Warriors had enjoyed a rare period on attack and were mounting pressure after getting their first points - a good kick and it might have been 18-12.

Nathan Fien engineered the Warriors' first try at 35 minutes with a short chip to the Penrith in-goal for Simon Mannering to touch down. It came on the back of a penalty, as do so many tries these days.

They pressed back to the Penrith line again but then Rovelli's chip bounced up sweetly for Pritchard and he broke the line, handed off to speedster Michael Jennings and the Warriors didn't have anyone quick enough to catch him.

At the break Penrith had completed 16 of 19 sets, the Warriors 10 of 16 and their tackle count was 40 higher.

They again let the opposition score first and to score first after the break.

And by the time Mannering got his second and Henderson backed that up Penrith already had 40 points up, Packer later getting his first try in just his second game.

Henderson said the only positive was that they didn't fold.

- NZ Herald

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