NRL: Woeful Warriors lose again

By Michael Brown

English fullback Sam Tomkins scored his first try for the Warriors in their loss to the Dragons at Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker
English fullback Sam Tomkins scored his first try for the Warriors in their loss to the Dragons at Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker

Warriors 12
Dragons 31

The Warriors still can't beat the Dragons or win at Eden Park, losing their fourth in four years, but more disconcertingly have opened their season with two disappointing defeats.

They were better than their inept 36-16 defeat to the Eels - that wouldn't have been hard - but they still lacked intensity and and the errors on both attack and defence mounted as they chased the game. They had plenty of possession but lacked execution and came up against a Dragons defence that wouldn't bend.

They were held scoreless in the second half playing into the strong wind at Eden Park and the pressure finally told as they conceded 25 second-half points.

"Our will to compete in the game at the moment could be questioned,'' coach Matt Elliott said. "I know we are a much better team than that. I have a heap of belief in the guys but it's certainly being tested at the moment.

"We worked from a fair distance out on these first six games being a real key for us and this was obviously our first home game. Last week was a disappointment and this one matches that.''

It's not uncommon for the Warriors to start the season with two-straight defeats but this year was supposed to be different.

They had a good pre-season, had recruited well and were feeling more comfortable with what Elliott was trying to achieve. All of that confidence has disappeared and it doesn't get any easier with a trip to the Cowboys next weekend.

They will have to do it without Ben Henry, who is thought to have re-torn his ACL on his right knee and faces another long stint on the sidelines.

The Warriors were in the game against the Dragons until the 69th minute, even thought they gifted the visitors two soft tries inside three minutes straight after the restart.

The first came when Sam Tomkins spilled another bomb and Adam Quinlan crossed unopposed.

It hasn't been a happy start for the England fullback, although he scored his first try for his new club when he used all of his 83kg frame to crash over inside the first five minutes.

The Warriors struggled to cope with the Dragons' clever kicking game all day as Gareth Widdop and Sam Williams controlled the match.

The Dragons also enjoyed much better ruck-speed, which put tremendous pressure on the Warriors who, in the end, couldn't cope.

At 18-12 down, the home side tried to lift but their attacks were well read by the Dragons' sliding defence. They crossed twice, but Shaun Johnson had the ball dislodged when going for the line and Henry was adjudged to have been inside the 10m when a grubber kick was made.

Morris was ready for the grubber the next time it came in the 69th minute and he then ran away 100m to seal the match.

It continues the Dragons' stranglehold over the Warriors, taking their winning run to nine games and the Warriors have won only four times in 21 games against the team from Wollongong.

The return of Thomas Leuluai can't happen soon enough. Chad Townsend is steady at five-eighth but lacks the physicality and precision of Leuluai.

But it's not the only issue. There are plenty of those.

Warriors 12 (Sam Tomkins, Jerome Ropati tries; Shaun Johnson 2 gls)
Dragons 31 (Mitch Rein, Adam Quinlan, Gerard Beale, Brett Morris, Ben Creagh tries; Gareth Widdop 5 gls; Widdop fg).
HT: 12-6


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