Broncos 26
Warriors 10

The Warriors will get an immediate gauge on what losing does for them if the crowd for next Sunday's game against Souths slumps from the 24,350 that watched them struggle individually and without team attitude when they lost to Brisbane.

On Saturday night they lacked enthusiasm, invention on attack and the big hits that inspire defences. Eventually they slumped to a 26-10 defeat that was expertly engineered by the Broncos halves Peter Wallace and Darren Lockyer.

Centre Brent Tate is gone for the season with a knee ligament tear and there will be no back-up from those already on the casualty list, with Lance Hohaia, Manu Vatuvei and Ben Matulino still recovering.

There are centre prospects in the Under-20s side but their coach Tony Iro rates them as some months away from NRL level. It is likely the call-up when the team for Souths is named tomorrow will be either to Thomas Ah Van or Malo Solomona, both wings, with either Ah Van or Aidan Kirk to play left centre.

While their depth is being tested early they are in no worse a situation than most teams who can also list three or four top-liners watching, sidelined.

Perhaps the difference this season is the experience of winning and making the play-offs last year while missing stars Wade McKinnon, Steve Price and Vatuvei for long periods.

The Warriors were out-played from the early minutes when Wallace's aerial attack produced a try for prop Joel Clinton and then his long pass sent centre Steve Michaels in. Then huge teenager Israel Folau was sent in at the corner after a backline movement just before half-time for a lead of 16-0 at the break and when Lockyer's short, flat ball to Aucklander Alex Glenn put him over the game was effectively over too, 22-0 at 44 minutes.

Lockyer then scored a solo try for 26-0. And from there to the end the only positive for the Warriors was that there were no more negatives.

In years gone by they may well have dropped their bundle and had more points put on them. On Saturday night they rallied to play some of their best attack at the end, Stacey Jones well contained until he slipped a pass to send Simon Mannering in at an angle and then multiple off-loads in the Broncos' red-zone getting new bench forward Ukuma Ta'ai his first try.

Ta'ai looks a good prospect and offers stinging hits on defence and good ground gain with bullocking ball carries, but his positional play remains ordinary.

Of the other new players Russell Packer is the real deal, just 19 and doing consistent damage to opposition big men; Joel Moon was in-and-out at five-eighths and was comprehensively outplayed by Lockyer but then so is every other number six; Jacob Lillyman was tough and while still learning the Warriors' game looks keen to turn up in support; Jesse Royal was useful without being startling.

It was up front where the Warriors lost it, the Broncos big men David Taylor and Sam Thaiday allowed to make far too much ground.

"We came into the game on the back of two good wins but I thought we still showed some improvement," Lockyer said.

The Warriors coach Ivan Cleary conceded his men were flat. Not one to look for excuses, he unusually took aim at the officials Matt Cecchin and Jason Robinson for their policing of charges made on kickers.

Each side was penalised once for knocking the opposition kicker over as he punted the ball. But when Ian Henderson copped one at 53 minutes, Lockyer turned it to points.

"If you're kicking the ball, what's the difference between when you kick it and then the fullback who stands under it can be hit by four blokes as soon as he catches it? If it's about safety, that's hypocrisy in my opinion," said Cleary

Cleary said the rules were letting kickers "have all day" and put the ball wherever they wanted. "That's something that's got to be fixed and quickly," he said.