Michael Burgess

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

NRL: Distractions lead to disappointment

Lack of focus was to blame for the loss, said coach Matt Elliott. Photo / Getty Images
Lack of focus was to blame for the loss, said coach Matt Elliott. Photo / Getty Images

As frustrating as it was, there were two small mercies in last night's dispiriting loss to the Sharks.

First, for all the negatives that could be analysed around attacking execution, the ineffective kicking game, the silly errors, sluggish defence and unnecessary penalties - it all centres around attitude, which is fixable, as the Warriors have already demonstrated this season.

Next Saturday while the Warriors have to travel to Australia to face Manly, it's not in the cauldron of Brookvale Oval but the much friendlier environs of the Central Coast.

Ahead of last night's game there were some warning signs. The game against the Storm took a undoubted physical toll and some close to the team felt there was also a slight air of complacency around the Warriors.

They were swamped by media, there were appearances by players on The Footy Show and Sterlo and constant talk of the top eight. The Sharks were priced at over $3 for the win on the New Zealand TAB.

"If you lack focus or get distracted - which it appears we have done this week - you don't compete well in this competition," said Warriors coach Matt Elliott.

The home side was flat for long periods of both halves, falling well below the standards they had set in gathering 18 out of a possible 20 NRL points since the Penrith humiliation.

"It's disappointing, when we lost against Souths there was still a lot of good aspects but [last night] was probably the first time we had to endure disappointment in terms of application," added Elliott. "Across our whole team our attitude was down, we lacked focus. There was obviously something wrong in our preparation in terms of building the right mindset."

The result means that the top eight remains just out of reach and at least four wins are required from the next five games.

There are no easy encounters, with Manly on Saturday followed by Penrith (h), Gold Coast (a), Canberra (h) and the Dragons (a). The Sea Eagles will either be galvanised or deflated by more expected drugs revelations today, which adds intrigue to the mix.

- Herald on Sunday

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