David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Defeat to Broncos a wake-up call for patchy Warriors, says Leuluai

The Broncos’ defence put a stop to Ben Matulino of the Warriors during the clash at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday night.  Photo / Getty Images
The Broncos’ defence put a stop to Ben Matulino of the Warriors during the clash at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday night. Photo / Getty Images

Warriors utility Thomas Leuluai believes Saturday night's disappointing 28-22 loss to the Brisbane Broncos is a wake-up call for the side ahead of this Sunday's clash against competition leaders Manly.

After scoring 78 points and conceding just 20 in their previous two matches, the Warriors turned in a patchy performance at Suncorp Stadium, leaking the most points since round two's 31-12 loss to the Dragons.

Seven wins from their previous nine games saw them charge up the competition ladder, coming from 12th place in round 13 to sixth last week, but Saturday night's missed opportunity puts them back into seventh.

Another defeat to the Sea Eagles could jeopardise their place in the top half of the ladder and leave them fighting off a chasing group of four teams on the cusp of the eight - the Cowboys, Dragons, Tigers and Eels.

"Maybe it's a good wake-up call for us. We always knew that if we were to lose a couple of games we'd be right back into the bottom half of the table," Leuluai said, after getting through almost 50 minutes off the bench in his first game back from a three-month layoff with a groin injury.

"We just need to be on our toes and can't be complacent and we can't get overconfident or listen to what people are saying, because as soon as we're slacking off on the things we've been doing well, we turn in a performance like that which is pretty poor.

"It's going to be even tougher [against Manly] but I think it's a good test for us. We've played some of the lesser teams and done really well, but against these teams, these are the games you're going to be playing at the back end of the year if you want to push for the top eight.

"This is the true test, these types of games. We missed an opportunity last night but we want to make sure we get this one."

The Warriors roared out of the blocks against Brisbane, posting two early tries to lead 12-0 after 10 minutes, only to drop their intensity and allow the Broncos back to take a 16-12 advantage into halftime. They started the second-half well, and two tries to Ben Henry had them ahead 22-18, but another lapse saw the home side hit back, with two quick tries to Dale Copley sealing the result.

"It's not like we didn't know that was coming. A lot of it was ourselves.

"A lot of people have been talking about us and how good we've been going and we started the game pretty good and scoring two easy tries maybe gave us a false sense of how the game was going to pan out.

"We were on fire at the start but we came up with too many areas in the back half of the game and let them back into it."

Captain Simon Mannering lamented the fact they had not played well but said they still had chances to win right up to the final whistle.

"There was probably a touch of complacency but we still fought back to give ourselves a chance and we played pretty poorly but still could have won. We weren't the best team out there but we gave ourselves a chance. Playing good for patches isn't good enough against a side like Brisbane.

"It doesn't get any easier but it's a great challenge for us. Hopefully this is just a good kick in the backside and it's our backs against the wall next week with the top team coming over. It will be a good challenge for the team and hopefully one that we can rise up for."

Next four games
Sunday v Sea Eagles (home)
Sunday 3 August v Raiders (away)
Sunday 10 August v Sharks (home)
Sunday 17 August v Knights (away)

- NZ Herald

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