The Warriors NRL playoff hopes are on life-support before the season reaches the halfway point, after they were overwhelmed by St George Illawarra 30-14 in Hamilton tonight.
Six days after their second-half capitulation to Penrith, the Warriors fragile defence was again exposed as they amassed 57 missed tackles, with the hard-running Dragons running in six tries to three at FMG Stadium Waikato.
The Warriors struggled to contain the Dragons powerful pack and second-phase offloads compounded their problems as the match wore on, with coach Stephen Kearney admitting they were dominated physically both with and without the ball.
"Apart from the first 25 minutes, we were physically beaten, whether it was at the tackle or whether it was us carrying the footy," said Kearney.
"So we need to have a real good look at ourselves and say 'well, why?'. That's where it all started."
The Warriors opened the scoring with front-rower Ben Matulino marking his 200th game in style, but it all fell to pieces with the Warriors troublesome right-edge leaking tries to Kalifa Faifai Loa, Joel Thompson and Tim Lafai.
The home side managed to peg one back with rookie wing Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad getting the first of two tries, but they went to the sheds trailing 18-10.
The Dragons closed the game out after the resumption, with Nene Macdonald scoring and Faifai Loa getting his second before Taane Milne ran in to make it 30-10, while Nicoll-Klokstad crossed again in the dying stages.
The match began at a frantic pace but the fast start left the Warriors looking tired, while the Dragons grew in strength as they gained the ascendancy through the second quarter.
"Their tries came a bit too easy and that was through them physically getting the better of us when they were carrying the footy," said Kearney.
"If you're getting beaten physically, one, when you're defending, that's what's going to happen. And two, subsequently, with the missed tackles comes the offloads, which creates missed tackles.
"And then when you're trying to carry the footy and they're physically getting the better of you, it takes energy out of you."
Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck felt the effort from his side was there but said they were guilty of working as individuals rather than a collective unit.
"It's frustrating because I feel like the boys are trying really hard," said Tuivasa-Sheck.
"But it's all individually, everyone's going in separate ways, someone putting in too much effort, someone not tying in to help out."
The loss continued a miserable run for the Warriors against the Red V, with the Dragons having won 21 of 26 clashes between the two clubs going back to 1998, backing up their 26-12 round four win in Sydney. The result was also the Warriors fourth defeat in as many visits to Hamilton.
The Penrose-based side are now fighting to keep their campaign alive, having collected just four wins from 11 starts.
With pressure mounting, the Warriors now need to beat the Brisbane Broncos at Mt Smart Stadium next Saturday before making back-to-back road trips to Parramatta and the Gold Coast.
They will be sweating on the return of former captain and talismanic lock Simon Mannering, who has missed the last two defeats with a hamstring injury, while centre Solomone Kata and veteran wing Manu Vatuvei are also recovering from calf strains.
Warriors 14 (Ben Matulino, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2 tries, Shaun Johnson cons, pens)
Dragons 30 (Kalifa Faifai Loa 2, Joel Thompson, Tim Lafai, Nene Macdonald, Taane Milne tries, Tim Lafai 2 cons, 1 pen)