Herald rugby league writer Michael Burgess lists three things we learned from the Warriors golden point loss to the Sharks last night.
Let's marvel at Mannering
On the end of his 250th NRL match next week, Simon Mannering was probably the best forward on the field in the 19-18 loss to Cronulla. The 29-year-old was incredible. He made 64 tackles - no one else on the field topped 45 - and was constantly in the right place at the right time in the middle of the ruck. Mannering also contributed 66 running metres, often in tough carries deep in Warriors territory. And he pulled off one of the most important tackles of the night, a desperate attempt on Chad Townsend in the first half when the former Warriors half looked certain to score beside the posts.
Warriors authors of own misfortune
There was a lot to like about the Warriors performance against the team at the top of the NRL ladder.
They went blow for blow with the Sharks for 87 minutes and didn't lose much in comparison. It was a display that belied their lowly ladder position and showed they are one of the form teams in the NRL at the moment. But they will also be ruing the match as one that got away.
The Warriors soaked up a lot of pressure in the first half, built a 10-0 lead, then let it go with a few concentration lapses in the final five minutes of the half. That was the key phase of the match. And though the Warriors defended well at Shark Park, all three Cronulla tries were soft by the standards the Auckland club wants to set. They also had a gilt edged opportunity to win in golden point, but elected to go for the try wide out instead of setting for a field goal when in prime position late in the first period of extra time.
Coach McFadden gets Wright call badly wrong
Unless there are some extenuating circumstances that we don't know about, the decision to start journeyman Jonathan Wright ahead of Tui Lolohea last night was difficult to understand. If there was concern over Shaun Johnson or Thomas Leuluai not lasting the match, Lolohea could have provided that cover but still been on the field.
Wright, like anyone in the NRL, is a confidence player and he hadn't played first grade for a month. He looked out of touch and unfortunately had an awful match, with glaring mistakes that contributed to a 12 point swing. With the forwards engaged in an almighty battle in the middle, the Warriors couldn't afford four errors from one of their wingers.