NZME league writer Dale Budge breaks down the Warriors' loss to the Rabbitohs last night.
The Warriors attack is not where it needs to be
The Warriors have struggled with the ball the past few weeks. Even in their wins they haven't really demonstrated a fluid attacking game for some time. A big reason for that is that key members of the spine like Issac Luke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson and Mason Lino have missed games and the number one spine has not been together very often this season. For the most part the defensive game has been solid (barring the odd-slip up) but the attack has a way to go. At this point in the season an NRL coach would prefer it to be that way rather than the defense needing the work but with Johnson and Lino due back after the bye they need to make a significant step-up in the upcoming games.
The bye comes at a good time for the Warriors
Coach Stephen Kearney doesn't agree but the Warriors look a little fatigued after a very taxing first three months of the competition. In most games they have had to do more tackling and therefore spend more energy than their opponents. Sure it has worked more often than not but it has taken a toll. The injury concerns to key players has also taxed the side's depth and players like Blake Green, Issac Luke, Adam Blair and Tohu Harris could benefit from a short rest. A break also gives the injured contingent an extra week to be ready.
The penalty crack down from the NRL isn't working
Their intentions are valid and I certainly support the referees taking control of the game by enforcing to the letter of the law - if teams aren't penalized for infringing it unfairly hurts the opposing team. The problem is the teams are not adjusting enough and the desire by just about everyone involved in the sport to see fairly even penalty counts means the game is simply getting blotted with stoppages. The referees need to send players to the sin bin much earlier in the piece and they need to stop warning captains that the next player to infringe will sit down. Teams take advantage of that by pushing the envelope until they get that warning. Teams are also milking penalties too much and they could start penalizing players for not playing within the spirit of the game. Relaxing and easing up on penalties won't work however.