NRL: Video ref ruling body blow to Warriors (watch)

By Steve Deane

James Maloney scores a try against the Canterbury Bulldogs. Photo / Richard Robinson
James Maloney scores a try against the Canterbury Bulldogs. Photo / Richard Robinson

Another slow start and a questionable late video referee call consigned the Warriors to a second straight home defeat, this time at Mt Smart, yesterday.

Much of the focus will be on a no-try call from Pat Reynolds when Kevin Locke appeared to have scored in the corner to tie the scores with 10 minutes remaining.

But the Warriors will lament another poor start that saw the Bulldogs race to a 16-0 lead. In three games now the Warriors have started 0-16, 0-8 and 0-16.

Coach Brian McClennan quipped during the week that maybe he ought to stop boring his players senseless with his pre-match talks. After yesterday's effort the matter is unlikely be the subject of any further mirth.

"We didn't get off to the start we would have liked," McClennan said. "In saying that, I thought they were very clinical in finishing those chances."

Bulldogs coach Des Hasler also argued that the three-try blitz had more to do with his side playing well than the Warriors playing badly, although that rather ignored an Ukuma Ta'ai knock-on in the opening set that set the tone, and two Jerome Ropati defensive errors that led to tries.

Ropati endured a torrid early return from the ankle injury he suffered in the opening round against Manly. But he was far from alone.

McClennan made a raft of changes that included switching Manu Vatuvei to the right wing, starting Ta'ai and Lewis Brown and benching Feleti Mateo.

The Bulldogs' early onslaught suggested the result of that tinkering was borderline calamitous, although McClennan certainly hit pay dirt with Mateo's introduction on 20 minutes and Ben Matulino's impact off the bench.

Mateo's first two touches were try assists to James Maloney and Sione Lousi to drag the Warriors back into the contest, and they could well have been in front by half-time.

When Mateo crossed 10 minutes into the second spell the Warriors were firmly in the ascendancy, but the Bulldogs scrambled admirably to avoid the killer blow.

A try by the hugely impressive Sam Kasiano put the Bulldogs back on top but Locke then appeared to have scored the leveller only for the Warriors to have the wind ripped from their sails by Reynolds' no-try call.

"For my money I thought he'd got it," McClennan said. "But you've just got to carry on, don't you. They make a ruling, you've got to respect it and move on. Personally I thought he'd got it."

Locke too would have thought he scored in a play that replays suggest might well have been judged with the benefit of the doubt.

However, Hasler dismissed such thoughts with a blunt "go and have a look at the video again".

Captain Simon Mannering insisted getting over the call wasn't hugely difficult, but it is debatable whether the Warriors ever fully did so, with the Bulldogs running in two late tries.

"Any time it goes upstairs it is never a certainty," Mannering said. "You just wait and say 'whatever is coming next, boys, just get on with it ..."'

While losses to two of the competition's heavyweights are hardly cause for alarm, McClennan will have plenty to ponder ahead of Saturday night's visit by the Gold Coast Titans.

Ta'ai's four-error display shouldn't make settling on the player to drop difficult, should Sam Rapira be available. But adding some solidity to a fluid outside back division might not be so straightforward.

Konrad Hurrell's inability to play more than 60 minutes at centre makes him a luxury few other clubs could afford, although it is offset by the workrate of 80-minute contributors such as Mannering, Nathan Friend and Elijah Taylor.

Designed to target Bryson Goodwin in the air, switching Vatuvei to the right produced mixed results, and the vexing issue of Krisnan Inu's absence isn't about to disappear.

Throw in Glen Fisiiahi's remarkable six-try effort for feeder club the Vulcans, and McClennan certainly has plenty to chew over.

He used the word "investigating" to describe his approach so far. For investigating read experimenting.

The results have been mixed, with the team producing three highly entertaining performances but just one win.

"We were lucky to get them on an off day but we'll take the win," Hasler said.

"Any win here is good. Not many sides will come here and get away with the two points."

That may prove to be true. But so far visiting teams to Auckland are two from two.Sydney Roosters coach Brian Smith admitted his side were fortunate to beat Canberra yesterday and has a tough week ahead of him to prepare his players for a clash with a red-hot Melbourne side next Sunday.

Despite completing only 53 per cent of their sets and making 20 errors at Allianz Stadium, the Roosters edged out an injury-ravaged Canberra 14-8, the Raiders playing the second half with just 14 available players.

A barnstorming performance at fullback from Greg Inglis helped South Sydney to their first win of the season, a 40-24 mauling of Penrith.

- NZ Herald

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