David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Warriors finals fate out of their hands after error-ridden loss to Cowboys

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson during Saturday night's six tries to one defeat to North Queensland. Photo / Getty Images.
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson during Saturday night's six tries to one defeat to North Queensland. Photo / Getty Images.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden admitted the NRL finals will not be discussed as his side look to halt their downward slide following last night's 34-6 defeat to the Cowboys.

The six-tries-to-one loss means the ninth placed Warriors need to win their remaining two home matches against Wests Tigers and Parramatta and rely on the eighth-ranked Gold Coast losing their final two games to give them hope of clinching a finals berth.

After improving steadily throughout a nine week period that reaped six wins and three golden point defeats, the Warriors have been their own worst enemies in their last two games, conceding 12 tries to the Rabbitohs and Cowboys.

McFadden said his side could only focus on finishing their season strongly and hope the Titans fall in next week's home game against the in-form Panthers and their final round away match against the Cowboys.

"There's still hope but it's not within our hands," said McFadden.

"We're going to have to rely on results and with two home games we want to finish the season strong.

"We can't really (use finals as motivation). We've just got to focus on finishing the year strong.

"What will happen will happen. We don't have a crystal ball so we've just got to focus on each week."

McFadden was left to lament 13 errors from his side that saw them put under tremendous pressure and provide the Cowboys with attacking possession that resulted in two tries to wing Kyle Feldt and a third to rampaging Kiwis lock Jason Taumalolo.

They hung tough to defend four consecutive sets just before halftime but a penalty allowed the Cowboys to maintain their attack before Justin O'Neill crossed to make it 22-6 at the break.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden lamented his side's high error count in the 34-6 loss to the Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden lamented his side's high error count in the 34-6 loss to the Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images.

The Warriors defence stiffened somewhat in the second-half but mistakes continued to plague them before Ray Thompson and Cowboys five-eighth Michael Morgan capped the scoring.

As South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds did the week before, the Cowboys playmakers tortured the Warriors with short kicks in behind the line from Morgan featuring in the lead-up to Feldt's double, and together with captain Johnathan Thurston's boot the home side forced six line dropouts to dominate possession.

Improved ball control was a feature of the Warriors play during their midseason revival but McFadden blamed a lack of awareness and attention to detail from his players as they continually coughed up possession inside their own half.

"It's just down to individual concentration," he said.

"You've just got to put a bit more attention on it. They know how to catch a ball and they know how to carry a footy, it's got nothing to do with the mental fatigue. It's just individual not thinking on the field.

"We defended pretty well for periods but we just gave up to much possession. And where we committed those errors, that was the telling factor."

The first time the Warriors managed to complete a set and launch an attacking kick in the first-half it resulted in a mistake from Cowboys wing Antonio Winterstein before captain Ryan Hoffman crossed for their only try of the night.

Hoffman rued his side's inability to repeat the tactic and the chance to apply more heat to the Cowboys defence.

"We certainly had belief and we just needed to build some pressure on them," said Hoffman.

"That was the first time we had built pressure. We put in an attacking kick up and managed to get the ball back so it just showed if we had have put more pressure on the Cowboys we would have had more opportunities."

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