A blistering second-half performance from the Sydney Roosters has all but ruined the Warriors' hopes of a fifth or sixth place finish and cast serious doubts over their top eight hopes.
With Roosters back-rower Sonny Bill Williams returning from a month long injury break to play his final NRL match in New Zealand, and with so much at stake for the home side, expectations were high that one of the best games of the year would unfold.
What eventuated was nothing short of a nightmare for Warriors fans as the reigning premiers ran in eight tries to two in a clinical showing that has them on track for back-to-back titles.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden was unhappy with his side's application and said they failed to rise to expectations.
"We should have been up for that. That was a big occasion for us and we needed to perform well against a very good side but we fell well short," he said.
"I'll admit that's pretty disappointing. We had everything to play for but we certainly didn't come up with much. There are no excuses for that lacklustre performance."
First half tries to Aidan Guerra, Michael Jennings and Shaun Kenny-Dowall helped the visitors to a 16-6 halftime lead after the Warriors managed just one four-pointer to Sam Tomkins, despite enjoying a wealth of attacking possession inside the opposition red zone.
"I thought we lacked a bit of conviction with our play there. We had a plan that I think would have worked but I didn't see much of that but there were lots of other disappointing areas as well," said McFadden.
A dislocated shoulder ended Warriors winger David Fusitu'a's afternoon after five minutes, meaning Ben Henry had to shift out wide, with centre Ngani Laumape filling in on the flank to leave their bench a man down.
The second-half saw the Roosters forwards assert their dominance and quick tries followed to captain Anthony Minichiello and Sam Moa, before a senseless flop saw Warriors lock Sebastine Ikahihifo sinbinned. The Roosters capitalised further, with Isaac Liu, and Boyd Cordner both touching down, before Laumape scored the Warriors second. The Roosters had the last word when Jennings claimed his second, while former Warrior James Maloney kicked seven goals in an outstanding all-round personal game.
Captain Simon Mannering said his team struggled up-front and had no response to the Roosters second-half roll-on. With Kiwis test contenders Jared-Waerea-Hargreaves, Frank Paul Nuuausala and Sam Moa leading the way, and halves Mitchell Pearce and Maloney playing at the line, the Roosters continually found room on the edges of the ruck. Their back-row trio of Williams, Cordner and Guerra played off the back of that momentum and the Warriors forwards were found wanting.
"First set they marched us the whole field and we were at sixes and sevens defensively. It starts in the middle with us forwards and we didn't match that intensity," Mannering said.
Less than a month ago the Warriors were within range of the top four but consecutive defeats have dropped them down into 10th spot on the NRL ladder. McFadden conceded they are now in a must-win predicament ahead of their final games against the Titans and Panthers.
"We are going to have to win both games and then maybe even require some other results to go our way [to make the top eight]."
Warriors 12 (Sam Tomkins, Ngani Laumape tries; Shaun Johnson 2 from 2 goals)
Roosters 46 (Aidan Guerra, Michael Jennings 2, Anthony Minichiello, Sam Moa, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Isaac Liu, Boyd Cordner tries; Maloney seven conversions)