Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's leadership has been questioned and halfback Shaun Johnson's game management has again come under scrutiny following last night's tight 20-14 NRL Anzac Day defeat to Melbourne.
The pair were indecisive when penalties either side of halftime presented the visitor's with prime try-scoring opportunities near the Storm line but confusion reigned before Johnson was eventually tasked with taking shots at goal.
Two minutes before the break the Warriors had all the momentum and looked likely to add a second try when awarded a penalty 35 meters out in front of the posts.
Johnson initially looked eager to keep the pressure on with either a quick tap or kick for the line but assistant coach Andrew McFadden appeared to advise him to take the two points. Johnson and Tuivasa-Sheck continued to deliberate with their teammates but the moment was lost and the No7 looked frustrated when he appealed for instructions from the Warriors bench before kicking his side to an 8-6 lead.
A similar scenario unfolded 12 minutes after the restart, when the Warriors won another penalty after back-to-back sets had the Storm's goal line defence stretched near breaking point. Johnson again looked to the sidelines for direction before Tuivasa-Sheck instructed him to kick them to a 14-12 lead.
The two-point buffers did little to help the Warriors however, with Storm captain Cameron Smith levelling the scores at 8-8 on the stroke of halftime, before wing Josh Addo Carr put his side on course for victory when he crossed for Melbourne's third try in the 66th minute.
Former Kiwis international Tony Kemp was less than impressed with the Warriors decision-making and believes the moments highlighted the gulf in leadership between the two sides in crucial stages of the match.
"There were two pivotal decisions that probably changed the momentum," Kemp told Radio Sport.
"One was in the first-half when they couldn't make their mind up whether they were going to tap it or go for goal and again in the second-half when they did the same thing.
"If you're reflecting on the leadership of Cameron Smith and the leadership at the Warriors from their young skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the difference with Cameron is he knows how to manage a game.
"They should have taken the tap in the first-half because they had most of the momentum and they probably would have gone on and scored.
"They had a chance to put their foot on the throat and they missed their opportunity in the first-half."
Former Kiwis captain Richie Barnett agreed the Warriors leadership had faltered and felt opportunities to apply greater scoreboard pressure through tries were missed.
"Sometimes you look at the flow of the game and from a captain's point of view you make that decision straight away," said Barnett.
"But, unfortunately with Tuivasa-Sheck, everybody was looking at each other and then they decided, 'well let's have a look and see what the coach says', so there was a clear lack of leadership there.
"But at times (they were) probably the right (decisions) because it was going to be such a close game."
Despite the result, both Barnett and Kemp recognised positive signs in the Warriors performance and were particularly impressed by their effort and commitment on defence.
The 12th-placed Warriors now have to pick themselves up quickly through a short five-day turnaround before Sunday's must-win home game against the Sydney Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium.
"The fact they defended so well. They showed a lot of resilience, there's no question," said Barnett.
"It was probably their best game of the season and they're getting closer. They'll win more games than not playing the way they did last night.
"Obviously there's a few subtle things they could change. Their kicking, the fifth tackle options weren't on the spot but overall it was a fantastic game from the Warriors."