Warriors defence - worst in a decade

By Niall Anderson

The Warriors defence is leaking points at a decade-worst rate. Photo / Getty Images.
The Warriors defence is leaking points at a decade-worst rate. Photo / Getty Images.

The Warriors defence is leaking points at a decade-worst rate, and a short-term fix isn't immediately clear.

Andrew McFadden's men have conceded 300 points in 11 games - 27.27 points per game - their worst mark since the ill-fated 2004 season.

While the "defence wins championships" line is overstated and doesn't always stand up to statistical proof, the Warriors are leaking points at rates which will make McFadden glad he has no hair left to pull.

Interestingly, the defensive malaise has been rather consistent, a rarity in a NRL competition where massive hidings can be swiftly followed with a bounce-back win.

The Warriors have only held one team to less than 18 points so far this season - the offensively inept Dragons - who score a shocking 11.7 points per game, and started the season at this unwatchable rate: 16, 2, 8, 14, 0 and 0.

With a 42 point shellacking from the Storm their leakiest showing of the year, it has been consistent 20 and 30 point allowances which have been the Warriors' achilles heel this season.

As many will tell you, the stream of points will cut short any chance of a playoff spot, and as a result likely cost McFadden his job as well. Only the 2004 Warriors have ended the season conceding more points per game than the 2016 Warriors, and they finished 15th - with an obvious correlation between defensive ineptitude and low finishes on the ladder.

Only the Knights - who have half their team still requiring IDs when hitting the town - have conceded more points than the Warriors, which raises the question - what is going wrong?

While there are certainly players who are below-average defensively at their position, the stats don't signal out any particular player as a turnstile whose benching could improve matters.

Shaun Johnson has missed the most tackles on the squad, with 32 - but at a rate which ranks 17th in the league, below many of his contemporaries in the halves (Maloney, Thurston, Widdop and Soward, to name just a few).

Conversely, the Warriors aren't conceding a particular barrage of penalties either, with Solomone Kata (11) and Ryan Hoffman (10) the main offenders.

In fact, the only player which the defensive statistics point to in an adversely negative light is Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who somehow missed more tackles (13) than he made (11) before his season was cruelly cut short due to injury.

Glance at the numbers in a team-wide perspective, and the issue contracts even further.

The Warriors rank eighth in missed tackles and seventh in errors - poor numbers for sure, but hardly the sign of the second-worst defensive team in the league.

So, the question is posed again - what is going wrong?

The numbers (or lack thereof) point to something many Warriors fans would agree with - the defensive issues are more systematic.

Tries scored on the troublesome edges often come about at a result of structural errors, while counter-attack tries can be categorised as organisational mistakes.

Also, as shown against the Raiders, poor attack can often lead to poor defence. Several Warriors errors deep in their own territory led to an avalanche of attacking opportunity, which even the aforementioned limp Dragons attack could surely take advantage of.

Anecdotally, while there are not a cascade of turnstiles defensively, it would be hard to pinpoint truly dominant defensive players in the squad, especially in the backline, where the Warriors often find themselves exposed.

The Warriors coaching staff will know the defensive limitations of their squad better than anyone else, but it seems the fix will hardly be quick. Rather than problems being solved with a few lineup changes; communicative and structural tweaks are more likely to be the core of the teachings dished out over the bye week and beyond.

The bye week could help, but the trend may also get worse before it gets better - with a clash against the third best attacking side, the Brisbane Broncos - when they return.

Warriors points allowed per game

2016 - 27.27
2015 - 24.5
2014 - 20.46
2013 - 23.08
2012 - 25.37
2011 - 16.37
2010 - 20.25
2009 - 22.71
2008 - 23.63
2007 - 18.08
2006 - 19.29
2005 - 22
2004 - 28.87
2003 - 21.25
2002 - 18.92
2001 - 26.21
2000 - 25.46
1999 - 20.75
1998 - 21.58

- NZ Herald

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