Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Kearney: Warriors' Penrith defeat won't be terminal

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney is adamant that the inexplicable loss in Penrith last week won't derail their season.

The Auckland club suffered the worst collapse in their 23 year history on Saturday, giving up a 28-6 halftime lead to lose 36-28.

It's the kind of performance that could lead deep psychological scars - that linger for weeks - but Kearney is certain that it won't.

"I'm not going to let 40 minutes of football define what has been a really progressive month of footy for us," said Kearney. "Am I happy with what happened - absolutely not.

But it happens. I don't like it happening but it happens in sport.

No one expected the Storm to lose from eight points up with seven minutes to go, or the Newcastle to beat the Raiders.

At 28-3 up in the Super bowl, no one expected the Patriots to beat the Falcons. But they did."

Kearney and his players were putting on a brave face yesterday, with the message being they had regrouped after a "pretty ugly" video session on Tuesday morning.

"No one likes losing - especially like that - but it's about moving forward, said Kearney.

"The less energy I spend on it is better...I just look ahead. I'm not worried about it [affecting us] because I am not going to let that happen.

That's my job to manage that, with the help of the senior leadership group. We have to look at the last five or six weeks, where we made progress...not 33 minutes."

It's an admirable but bold stance from Kearney, because in the past those kind of defeats have defined their campaigns

In 2012 the team gave up an 18-point at home against Newcastle, which was the beginning of a downhill slide. The Warriors failed to hold onto a similar lead against Manly the following week and then completely collapsed, not winning another game that season and suffering massive defeats against the Cowboys and Sharks.

In 2014 a late season loss in Newcastle - in a game they should have won - seemed to have a profound effect, as they dropped three of their final four matches to miss out on the playoffs.

And last year three golden point losses in four games seemed to take the wind out of their sails and were seen as a major contributing factor to their awful end to the campaign, where they lost their last four matches, three by large margins.

Kearney is remaining positive, but the defeat has stung everyone. The coach didn't feel let down personally by the players _ "they've let themselves down more than anything" but was hurt, staying in the coaches box at Penrith stadium for a much longer period than normal after the final whistle, trying to come to terms with the result.

Its importance will only be judged in the coming weeks but it's hard not to feel pessimistic.

Saturday was a brilliant chance to destroy some demons.

It was an opportunity to bank their first win in Penrith since 2012, and probably put a close rival (the Panthers) almost out of finals contention this season.

It was also a chance for a rare celebration across the Tasman, where the Warriors victory song hasn't been heard since August last year.

It makes this Friday's assignment in Hamilton against St George even more daunting, with the Dragons' forward pack dominating most opposition this season.

Kearney also confirmed that Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei and Solomone Kata wouldn't be in contention for Friday's match.

- NZ Herald

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