NRL: That losing feeling all too familiar

By Cameron McMillan

Coach Elliott admits the Warriors could have performed better but says the lowly rated Eels were 'very good'.

Jacob Lillyman of the Warriors is tackled by the Eels defence during the match against the Parramatta Eels. Photo / Getty Images
Jacob Lillyman of the Warriors is tackled by the Eels defence during the match against the Parramatta Eels. Photo / Getty Images

It's only one game into the new season but it seems all too familiar. The Warriors prepare for their home opener at Eden Park against the Dragons on Saturday after being handed a convincing season opening defeat at the hands of the lowly-rated Eels.

Twelve months ago the Warriors were dealt a sound 40-10 defeat in Parramatta before losing the next weekend at Eden Park to the Roosters. That was followed by another loss the week after. It took until week four before the Warriors won their first game, as it did in 2012, as they went on to lose eight of their opening 10 games. What may be more concerning for Warriors fans, after a promising pre-season and a strong showing at the Auckland Nines, is that the manner of Sunday's 36-16 defeat had a sense of deja vu across all aspects of the park.

A lack of attacking nous in the opposition's 20, leaking points in bunches and being exposed down both sides of the field - so poorly that both Eels wingers Semi Radradra and Vai Toutai bagged hat-tricks - are all issues that led to an 11th placed finish last year.
After Sunday's defeat Warriors coach Matt Elliott said his side had plenty to work on before facing St George Illawarra but he was quick to play down the similarities of last year's round one loss to the Eels - his first in charge of the side.

"We would have liked to have performed better than that, but certainly I have to acknowledge the opposition tonight, they were very good," Elliott said.

"We were not quite where we wanted to be but I think if you compare it to last year's performance it is wide of the mark," he said.

"There were some solid performances from our guys but physically we need to be better."

Halfback Shaun Johnson said while the start to 2014 does feel similar, the team are in a completely different place and they just lacked intensity.

"Obviously [we're] pretty disappointed ... we will get together to really sort of see where we went wrong, but I think they just ran a bit harder, were hungry for it."

It certainly wasn't the debut performance new signing Sam Tomkins would have wanted. He played a part in two of the Warriors' three tries but also slipped to let in Radradra's first try before coughing up a bomb which fell into the winger's hands to complete his hat-trick.

The Englishman failed to make an impact and whether he had an off night or it's the harsh realities of the NRL it's too early to tell but the spark and form shown at the World Cup last year were missing.

"He had a tough night, but Sam plays his best football in attack and relies on us offensively to have a really strong d-line and we never really pulled that off tonight," Elliott said.

The good news is the Warriors are only one game into the season but they can't afford to wait until round 11 to start a season revival this year.

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