Was 2014 a failure or not? It is one of many questions that can be asked of the Warriors, and is the easiest to answer. It was a failure all right, with a capital F.

Even coach Andrew McFadden, in an interview with the Herald, said it would be a failed season if they missed the top eight from the position they had worked themselves into not so long ago.

The Warriors were awful in their do-or-die bid against the Penrith Panthers last night, lacking heart and organisation, making stupid errors and showing naivete. The Panthers are badly injury hit. The Warriors were in much better shape. They were plagued by an inferior kicking game. Even a stirring Manu Vatuvei try couldn't shift them.

Match report: Season over for Warriors


McFadden, who took over as head coach mid-season, deserves a slightly better mark than the club does overall. The Warriors were in bad shape when he took over, including a public spat between the owners. McFadden got them back on course, demanding tougher standards during high-intensity spells at training. And yet, it came to a bad end.

Maybe the best explanation for another late-season slide came from former Kiwis captain Hugh McGahan, in his weekly column. McGahan surmised an initial burst of enthusiasm under the new coach enabled the players to adapt but some could not last the pace and began to slip again.

All the plaudits last night belong to Penrith, whose coach, Ivan Cleary, honed his methods in Auckland. He has done an outstanding job of creating a tough team from an average Panthers squad. Jamie Soward led the way with his general kicking, a lesson for the Warriors - not that they have proved adept at learning lessons over the years.

There's enough reason to have confidence McFadden will turn things around, but pointless to make grand predictions for a club that so often flatters to deceive. The Warriors have the firepower, but not enough consistent fire.

There's no doubt, to my mind, they need a few more Australian-schooled super professionals in the mould of the Storm's Ryan Hoffman, who joins next season. Such players can create the tougher environment McFadden knows is needed.

Finals schedule
2nd qualifying final:
(2) Sea Eagles v (3) Rabbitohs
1st qualifying final:
(1) Roosters v (4) Panthers
1st elimination final:
(5) Cowboys v (8) Broncos
2nd elimination final:
(6) Storm v (7) Bulldogs