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

NRL: Warriors suffer another crushing defeat

The Warriors remain a work in progress - but at least last night there was plenty of work and some progress. Photo / Getty Images
The Warriors remain a work in progress - but at least last night there was plenty of work and some progress. Photo / Getty Images

Broncos 25
Warriors 10

The Warriors remain a work in progress - but at least last night there was plenty of work and some progress.

They surprised many by staying in this match for the first 60 minutes, before the Broncos eased away for a deserved 25-10 victory.

The Warriors' second half performance was compromised by the loss of Blake Ayshford (concussion) and Manu Vatuvei (rib cartilage), which led to a reshuffled backline and holes out wide.

But even with their full 17, it's doubtful the result would have differed.

The intensity of the performance was a ten fold improvement on last week, but some things can't be changed in the space of six days; the defence was better but remained porous on the edge and the attacking game was poor.

It looked like they could have kept playing all night and not make a clean break.

They went too lateral too soon, when the direct approach was paying dividends, and Shaun Johnson had a quiet game. And they are not getting the best out of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, as he rarely receives the ball with the defence committed. Instead the Warriors plays are done behind the advantage line, allowing the defence to slide and wait.

And the fifth tackle options were dreadful. The Warriors couldn't force a single repeat set last night, despite incessant pressure in the Broncos half as the home side made a pile of errors. Shallow bombs were directed at Corey Oates - the tallest man on the field and grubbers invariably went too long. Perhaps the worst aspect was the urgency of the kick chase, as twice Oates escaped from seemingly impossible situations deep inside his own in goal area in the first half.

So, an improvement but pressure will remain on coach Andrew McFadden; the defence still looks leaky and the attack lacks real bite when it matters.

For much of the match the Broncos were off their game, looking like they were the team that travelled and faced the short turn around. The Warriors dominated field possession for much on the first half and got great momentum, with some surging runs from Vatuvei, Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson. There was energy, endeavour and intensity. After Corey Oates had opened the scoring for the Broncos from a clever set play in the eighth minute, Issac Luke showed good strength to squeeze over from dummy half eleven minutes later, after a sustained period of Warriors' pressure.

But the Broncos' second try was a killer, that released the pressure valve the Warriors had built up over the previous 15 minutes. It's this unfortunate habit, this soft underbelly, that still gives opposing teams confidence. From a simple wrap play Ayshford - who has been brought in to stiffen the right edge - got caught out and Jack Reed beat Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to score.

The second half followed a similar pattern. The Warriors dominated possession and territory early but couldn't find a way through the Broncos defence. It was inevitable that the Broncos would make them pay, and during their first spell inside the Warriors' 22, Darius Boyd got outside Jeff Robson for a simple try. The pace of Robson was exposed again for the Broncos fourth try, though Matt Gillett ran a great line to score.

Broncos 25 (C. Oates, J. Reed, D. Boyd, M. Gillett tries; C. Parker 2 goals, J. Kahu goal, A. Milford goal, field goal)

Warriors 10 (I. Luke try; S. Johnson 3 goals). Halftime: 12-10.

- NZ Herald

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