NRL: Maloney keeping the faith despite seventh loss

By Kris Shannon

Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors scores against the Melbourne Storm at Mt Smart Stadium. Despite leading at halftime, the team plunged to their seventh defeat from 12 matches. Photo / Getty Images
Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors scores against the Melbourne Storm at Mt Smart Stadium. Despite leading at halftime, the team plunged to their seventh defeat from 12 matches. Photo / Getty Images

Warriors five-eighth James Maloney says the side still possess plenty of belief, despite Melbourne yesterday handing them their seventh loss in 12 games this season.

After bursting out of their bye week break and jumping to a 12-0 lead at Mt Smart Stadium, the Warriors were held scoreless for the remaining 65 minutes as the Storm ran in 22 unanswered points to cement their spot at the top of the NRL ladder.

It was a second straight loss for the Warriors, ensuring the good vibes engendered before the bye when they won consecutive games for the only time this season are long gone.

Despite the return of the doom and gloom which surrounded their opening steps in this campaign, last year's beaten grand finalists sit only two points outside the top eight. And, with the season having just reached its halfway mark, there is still plenty to play for.

You wouldn't have guess it upon seeing the dejected nature of the Warriors camp following the loss, but Maloney believed the mood belied the fact the team were keeping the faith.

"There's plenty of belief,'' he said. "Everyone knows we're a side, if we're playing the right type of footy, who can beat anyone. It's just a matter of us playing that footy. If we can do that, no doubt the wins will come and we'll be fine come the end of the year.''

That may seem to be a big 'if' at this point in time. Gone are the slow starts which plagued the side through the early rounds but an inability to hold leads, punctuated by trivial errors, have arrived in their place.

A 10-0 halftime advantage over Wests was followed by the fast start against the Storm, before lapses in concentration saw both leads trumped.

"Once we can get a few things tweaked and play a full 80 minutes without those little lapses, we'll get the ball rolling,'' Maloney said.

Those little lapses proved especially costly against yesterday's opposition, who are threatening to run away with the competition. Maloney admitted the the side were often guilty of beating themselves but chose to add some context to the dropped points.

"Against Melbourne, it's probably two points that a lot of other sides won't get anyway,'' he said. "But it's pretty disappointing - with all the hard work we do - to have those little lapses and let them back into the game.

"Melbourne are too good a side to let you get away with that. In that first half, they probably only got down in our half twice and they scored twice.''

Adding to the Warriors' woes, and not aiding their cause, were yet more injuries to key personnel. The curse of the No 1 jersey again struck, with Glen Fisiiahi forced off with bruising to his knee, and the giant prop Sam Rapira also left proceedings with a tricep tear.

Fisiiahi was able to return, but Rapira faces an operation and three months on the sidelines - a cruel blow for a player only recently returned from a long lay-off.

"It's definitely not ideal,'' Maloney, who had to fill in at fullback, said. "Especially around your spine - your nine, six, seven and one. You start moving them around and it's a bit disruptive.

"But, at the end of the day, those things happen in football and you've got to be able to roll with the punches and still get the job done. And we didn't do that tonight.''

The Warriors now have eight days to stew over the loss before travelling to Penrith to face former coach Ivan Cleary and his Panthers next Monday night.

- NZ Herald

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