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

NRL: Warriors beaten in heartbreaker

Bodene Thompson, Simon Mannering and captain Ryan Hoffman of the Warriors after the full-time whistle blows. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Bodene Thompson, Simon Mannering and captain Ryan Hoffman of the Warriors after the full-time whistle blows. Photo / Jason Oxenham

So near, yet still so far away.

The Warriors have become accustomed to tales of woe in the NRL - but today's 21-14 loss to the Melbourne Storm will go down as a heartbreaker.

The squad will wake up this morning near the bottom of the table - and still winless - but with a conviction that some positive results are just around the corner.

As it happened: Warriors v Storm

"We are frustrated but we have all the confidence in the world that if we turn up with as much effort that we have been showing but have that bit of polish as well the win is coming sooner rather than later," said captain Ryan Hoffman. "No one is dropping their heads."

Late in today's match the home side looked the more likely winners, as they fought back from a 12-4 halftime deficit to lead 14-12. But they couldn't maintain the momentum, undone by basic errors.

After the Storm drew level with a penalty, a 77th minute field goal to Cooper Cronk, which snuck just over the crossbar and inside a post, was the critical blow, before Marika Koroibete crossed in the last minute.

"We did so well to get ourselves back in the match and just when we needed to keep our game tight, we got a bit loose," rued McFadden.

There was an empty feeling around Mt Smart after the game; a recognition that this was another missed opportunity. It wasn't a vintage display from the Storm, but they play the game on the margins with ruthless efficiency.

The Warriors were undone by mistakes - 12 errors in all - and an inability to seize the moment, to apply the blowtorch at the opportune times. The defensive effort was strong for long periods, though the Storm's first two tries were fairly soft.

Issac Luke was a late withdrawal - due to a knee complaint - replaced by youngster Jazz Tevaga.

Like last week in Brisbane, you couldn't fault the application or desire today. There was evidence everywhere, from Kevin Proctor being flung to the ground by Ben Matulino to Storm fullback Cameron Munster being corralled by six defenders chasing a Shaun Johnson kick.

But there was - again - a lack of polish in the key moments. Twice the Warriors had forwards kicking on the fifth tackle (James Gavet and Ryan Hoffman), as moves broke down just when they needed to fire.

And it was be amiss not to mention the refereeing, as Henry Perenara and Dave Munro made some mystifying calls. The officials can't get everything right with their interpretations but that need to be consistent and they weren't.

The Storm made the better start yesterday, Kenny Bromwich crossing off a precise Cronk kick in the 13th minute. The home side hit back five minutes later, with a slick move finished by Tui Lolohea.

After a Cameron Munster try extended the Storm's advantage in the 24th minute, the Warriors lifted noticeably in the second half, with Charlie Gubb, Albert Vete and Matulino bringing a physical edge to the game. Solomone Kata burrowed over from dummy half in the 46th minute, before Johnathan Wright finished off a good team move just after the hour mark to raise hopes. But it wasn't to be.

Warriors 14 (T. Lolohea, S Kata, J Wright tries S Johnson goal)
Storm 21 (K Bromwich, C Munster, M Koroibete tries, C Smith 4 goals, C Cronk field goal)
Halftime: 12-4

- NZ Herald

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