NRL: Warriors stuck in losing rut

By Michael Brown

Join us here for live updates of this afternoon's NRL match between the Warriors and the Sharks from Sharks Stadium in Sydney. Photo / Getty Images.
Join us here for live updates of this afternoon's NRL match between the Warriors and the Sharks from Sharks Stadium in Sydney. Photo / Getty Images.

Cronulla 28
Warriors 4

The Warriors got the backing from Prime Minister John Key this week but they might need to go to a higher authority if they are to break out of their dreadful losing streak.

Last week's second-half resurgence against the Roosters was a false dawn because yesterday against Cronulla they reverted to the bad, old way that has seen them accumulate their worst losing streak in history.

It was a depressingly familiar tale and one often told since July last year. Whether it's an 11-game (combined seasons) or three-game losing streak (this season) is irrelevant. They are playing poorly and are in a rut of their own making.

Not a lot went their way. They lost winger Glen Fisiiahi (bereavement) and Sam Rapira (injury) before kickoff and Steve Rapira lasted barely three minutes before he retired after copping a knee to his head leaving the Warriors to see out the rest of the game with only three interchange players.

They were also facing a Sharks side highly motivated following the return of their coach Shane Flanagan.

But the Warriors were also their own worst enemies. They followed up terrific 40/20 kicks with errors, including one on the first tackle, and also handed possession back on the first tackle when collecting a goal line drop out. All of that came on top of penalties conceded late in the tackle count and too many errors.

"We're in a process,'' coach Matt Elliott said. "Sometimes when [errors on first tackles] happen, you see the team freeze in front of your eyes. After that we went a bit conservative.''

It was a hot and humid day - and referees gave the players drinks breaks midway through each half - but the Warriors were sloppy and completed only 63 per cent of their sets. It meant they didn't build any pressure other than on themselves and Cronulla took advantage.

Five-eighth Todd Carney was in total control and it's easy to see why the Warriors are keen to prise him away from the Sharks at the end of the season but Cronulla will presumably move quickly to make sure that doesn't happen. He was very good, but the Warriors didn't make it hard for him.

Incredibly, it was the third-straight game the Warriors had failed to score a first-half point and, for a side often labelled one of the most exciting in the competition, it is a worrying trend.

They made only one linebreak and three offloads in 80 minutes and their lack of fluency, especially from set pieces, is concerning.

Confidence is clearly an issue and that might only return with a win but, with games against North Queensland and Souths over the next fortnight, it's difficult to see when that might be in this sort of form.

It will take "about eight days,'' to turn around, Elliot said optimistically. "You won't quell my optimism. We are in a process. We have some pretty handy players out at the moment. We have some players back [soon] that will make our team roll.''

Konrad Hurrell scored a consolation with five minutes remaining and `celebrated' with a muted kiss for the camera. The problem is it's hard to feel the love for the Warriors at the moment.

Cronulla 28 (John Morris, Michael Gordon, Beau Ryan, Sam Tagataese, Jeff Robson tries, Gordon 4 gls) Warriors 4 (Konrad Hurrell try). HT: 18-0.

- APNZ

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