Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Night of horror for Warriors

Travis Robinson of the Panthers scores in the corner during the round 10 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.
Travis Robinson of the Panthers scores in the corner during the round 10 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.

Panthers 62
Warriors 6

On this evidence, start planning for 2014. With more than half the season to play, this was a horror show.

Last week was a frustrating but creditable defeat. This was the worst result since the club was formed in 1995.

Most of the previous record defeats were to redhot opposition near the top of the table; this was against a Penrith team missing several first choice players and sitting 13th on the NRL table.

The scoreline represented the biggest losing margin in the club's history, surpassing the 54-0 defeat at the hands of the Dragons in 2000 and it was also the most points conceded by the Auckland club.

The only positive was that there was no late fade in the last quarter this week; the Warriors fell apart from the 15th minute onwards. The Panthers were in pink but all the comedy was provided by the visitors.

There was a missed kick at touch from a penalty, a penalty for being in front of the kicker and a knock on under their own posts that led directly to a Panthers try. Former Warriors Issac John and Lewis Brown contributed five of Penrith's ten tries and Luke Walsh kicked 11 goals, many from near the scoreline.

Of most concern was that the Warriors didn't look like they wanted to be there, nor that they wanted to play for their coach.

Penrith led 26-0 at halftime and any hope of an unlikely comeback was snuffed out by two early tries in the second half. Few Warriors emerged with any credit and Elliott's selection will come under the microscope this week. Carlos Tuimavave did nothing to justify his continued promotion ahead of Konrad Hurrell and Ngani Laumape's effort and desire would have been handy.

Shaun Johnson was anonymous for the second successive week; if Benji Marshall is in a hole, the Warriors halfback isn't far behind.

He is short on involvement and confidence. One episode late in the first half illustrated his current malaise; he missed touch from a penalty, then a few plays later missed Lewis Brown who set up the Panthers' fourth try.

He didn't improve early in the second half and was hooked from the field with half an hour to play, with Pita Godinet taking his halves spot.

After plenty of energy early on, Penrith gradually overwhelmed the visitors. The Warriors had no linespeed or enthusiasm on defence and no punch on attack. There was some intricate planned moves, but they were all too far behind the advantage line. This season is starting to resemble 2012. Just like Manly's come back from the dead in Perth last year, maybe the Bulldogs victory last week was a hammer blow to belief and confidence. Penrith are a solid team but looked like world beaters last night.

The spotlight must fall on the team. Given the form of both sides coming into this game, last night was meant to be about which team made the least mistakes. We didn't expect champagne football but couldn't have envisaged such a flat performance.

Russell Packer's offload in the first hit up of the match, suggesting an attacking tone for the match. Penrith didn't even touch the ball until the sixth minute; the Warriors had five consecutive sets but couldn't cross the line. An early omen? Penrith gained possession, earned a couple of penalties and were soon on the scoreboard. Former Warrior Isaac John, in his second game for the Panthers after a spell in Super League, opened the scoring with a soft try in the 15th minute. The five eight ran with intent, but the way he squeezed past three defenders was inexcusable at NRL level.

Worse was to follow five minutes later, when John's angled run confused the defence enough to allow Travis Robinson a clear run to the line. Already the body language was bad; heads were starting to drop, hands were on hips.

Another former Warrior, Lewis Brown dived over for a simple try then created one for John moments before halftime. With 40 minutes gone, the game was over.

Panthers 62 (I. John 3, T. Robinson, L. Brown 2, J. Segeyaro, M. Robinson, K. Kingston, D.Simmons tries; L. Walsh 11 goals) Warriors 6 (M. Vatuvei try; B. Henry goal).
Halftime: 26-0

- Herald on Sunday

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