Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Sloppy Warriors stuffed at home

Ryan Hoffman of the Warriors looks on during the round six NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Manly Sea Eagles. Photo / Getty Images.
Ryan Hoffman of the Warriors looks on during the round six NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Manly Sea Eagles. Photo / Getty Images.

There's something about Manly and, at this rate, it's going to be another frustrating season for the Warriors.

They had made progress over the previous two weeks, but took a step backwards last night. They continued their remarkable hex against Manly, going down 34-18 for their 10th loss in the last 11 games with the Sea Eagles.

But more than the result, it was the performance that was of major concern. The Warriors started slowly, and never really got going. There was effort but it wasn't sustained and there was a complete inability to build any pressure.

The Warriors looked in a state of panic for most of the match. They tried low-percentage plays and made bad decisions.

To compound matters, they lost focus badly. They were in a running battle with the referees (who were admittedly awful) which no one was going to win.

Manly did nothing flash all night but they were smart. Their forwards dominated the ruck and, on defence, they hustled their opposites down down blind alleys.

The first 40 minutes was as ugly a half as the Warriors have produced all year. There was a bad omen from the opening hit up, as Ben Matulino was driven backwards by three Manly defenders. After the cohesion and class last week, the Warriors played like strangers.

The attack was disjointed, with players getting in each other's way, and the timing was awful. The Warriors only looked dangerous from broken play but that would often break down, and any momentum was stifled by needless errors. There were knock-ons from dummy half, dropped balls on zero tackle and chip kicks straight into Manly hands.

What made it even more frustrating was the fact the refereeing was appalling. They didn't get control of the game all night, which led to a messy match, and their inexplicable decision to award Manly a line drop-out early in the second half (when Solomone Kata was clearly out of his own in-goal) was symptomatic of their poor interpretations.

Manly opened the scoring in the eighth minute, after Martin Taupau reacted first to an attacking grubber. It was an untidy try, but the Sea Eagles deserved their lead after a dominant start.

It got worse from there. The Warriors gave up cheap penalties, and made a mountain of handling errors.

It was no surprise when Manly doubled their advantage, although the way Josh Starling strolled through the heart of the Warriors' defence was a concern.

The home side didn't get an attacking set inside the Manly 20m zone until the 26th minute, and didn't wake up until the final 10 minutes of the first half. After Roger Tuivasa-Sheck came close, Blake Ayshford finally crossed off a smart ball from Luke to give the Warriors some impetus.

But it didn't last, as the Warriors were again slow to start in the second half. The Manly forwards continued to dominate the ruck, and got their reward when Steve Matai scored from a precise grubber.

After Jamie Lyon had added a penalty, Luke gave the home crowd some hope with a determined try from dummy half but it never really looked likely and Manly finished with a flourish and were good value for their comprehensive win. Warriors 18 (B Ayshford, I Luke, S Kata tries; S Johnson 3 gls) Sea Eagles 34 (M Taupau, J Starling, S Matai 2, T Trbojevic tries; J Lyon 7 gls.

Halftime: 6-12.

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