NRL: Sloppy finish, solid defence during Warriors win, says McFadden

Ben Matulino in action for the Warriors against the Gold Coast Titan yesterday. Photo / Photosport
Ben Matulino in action for the Warriors against the Gold Coast Titan yesterday. Photo / Photosport

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden was unhappy with his side's loose finish but lauded their committed defence to clinch Sunday's 24-14 NRL win over the Gold Coast.

The Warriors impressed with a dominant forward display and desperate tackling throughout the five tries to three win at Cbus Super Stadium, but some undisciplined play in the final 10 minutes left the door ajar for the Titans to steal victory.

Ahead 24-10 the Warriors missed a chance to shut the home side out when a stray pass from five-eighth Thomas Leuluai to captain Ryan Hoffman gave possession back to the Titans.

On the last play of the set, a clever kick down the right touchline from new signing Jarryd Hayne, in his first game back in the NRL and debut outing for the Gold Coast, resulted in a try to Titans right wing Anthony Don.

From the ensuing kickoff, the Titans powered downfield and came close to scoring again from another short side play from Hayne, but former Warrior Konrad Hurrell's pass to Don was ruled forward.

The Warriors survived but at the end of their next set and with just three minutes left on the clock, halfback and man of the match Shaun Johnson's fifth tackle kick went straight to Titans left wing Nene Macdonald to put the visitors back defending on their own line.

Hayne then came back across to the left and threw a cut-out ball for back-rower Chris McQueen but a two-on-one overlap was wasted when Macdonald spilled the pass to let the Warriors off the hook once more.

"We were a little untidy with the football at times even though we did create lots of opportunities," said McFadden.

"But we had to defend well to get the points and that's not been typical of us in the past.
"We're really hanging in there and we threw a bit at them and they scrambled well. Our defence had to really hold up and that's probably what won it for us."

A week after controlling play and scoring the match-winning try in the golden point win over Penrith, Johnson produced another strong game and his combination with back-rower Bodene Thompson on the right-edge caused endless problems for the Titans defence.

The 25-year-old has been one of the form players of the competition over the past five weeks and his kicking and game management has been as prominent as his trademark attacking flair, but McFadden felt the No7 would be disappointed with certain aspects of his latest performance.

"Shaun probably wouldn't be that happy with his game," said McFadden.

"There were certain parts of our game that we just needed to tighten up right at the end and really close it out, which he has been doing really well.

"Shaun will expect a little more from himself but that just shows you how well he is going."

The hard appraisal is perhaps evidence of how far the Warriors have come since they were last beaten in regulation time by Canberra back in round 11.

Even without the experience and creativity of hooker Issac Luke, the Warriors did not miss a beat with rookie replacements Jazz Tevaga and Nathaniel Roache filling in admirably.

The seventh-ranked Warriors are now well poised to make the finals for the first time since 2011, with next week's home match against South Sydney followed by a trip to North Queensland to play reigning premiers the Cowboys, before closing out the regular season with back-to-back games at Mt Smart Stadium against Wests Tigers and Parramatta.


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