Warriors 0
Dragons 36

This game was do or die, and the Warriors' finals hopes look dead.

Surely no one expected this - a 36-0 hammering at the hands of a Dragons side who have struggled to score tries this season. St George also lost Benji Marshall for most of the match, and ended the game with only 15 fit players.

The Warriors will slip down the ladder - almost out of sight - but the mental damage is more significant. It's hard to imagine they have much belief left for their run-in.


"We didn't have enough guys out there tonight up to first-grade standard," coach Andrew McFadden lamented. Captain Simon Mannering also labelled it their "most disappointing performance in probably our most important match of the season".

They were held to nil for the second time in four weeks and have sung their victory song only once since early July.

Unfortunately, McFadden will take some of the blame for this defeat, with his decision to omit Konrad Hurrell. It's hard to imagine their defence could have been any worse with Hurrell in the side, but their attack might have been a whole lot better.

They desperately needed some early momentum in this match, and got plenty of possession and territory in the first half but made few inroads. Sure, they lack structure without Shaun Johnson, but their best attacking weapon was sitting in the grandstand and the Warriors made just one linebreak in the match.

Their depth isn't what we thought it was. The absence of Johnson, Ryan Hoffman, Bodene Thompson and Thomas Leuluai has proved terminal to their playoffs chances
The Warriors had little or no direction for most of the game. Chad Townsend - supposed to be the senior playmaker now - was poor. Not only were his fifth-tackle options predictable but they were inaccurate.

In the first 45 minutes, when the Warriors were still in the match, that hurt. It must be soul destroying for the forward pack, as possession was frittered away needlessly.

We probably shouldn't have been surprised. The Warriors were fighting an awful history.

Not only do they have a poor record in Wellington (one win from eight games) but a remarkable 11-game winless sequence against St George. To put that in perspective, the last time the Warriors beat the Dragons, Helen Clark was still Prime Minister and Lorde was an 11-year-old at Belmont Intermediate School. Marshall started the show tonight, a beautifully-timed cut-out pass sending Justin Hunt in after seven minutes.


The pressure had come from a set play near the ruck which, unlike the Warrior's predictable double round moves in that area, was done at pace and from deep. Marshall (hamstring) exited soon afterwards.

The Warriors couldn't convert several chances, with brilliant last-ditch tackles on Nathan Friend and Solomone Kata, before the Dragons' second try which graphically illustrated the Warriors' current problems.

A promising attacking situation was defused by a poor Townsend kick, allowing St George to regain possession and charge up the field. Dragons hooker Mitch Rein then forced a line dropout with a clever kick, before diving over a few plays later from dummy half.

It was an inexcusable try, but seems to happen to the Warriors more than most teams. Is it evidence of a soft centre, or just proof of the anxiety that overtakes the team when they are defending in their own 22?

The second half became a procession after tries to Jake Marketo (46th minute) and Peter Mata'utia (48th minute) killed any faint hope for the Warriors in this game - and surely the season.

Warriors 0 Dragons 36 (J Hunt, M Rein, J Marketo, P Mata'utia, G Widdop, T Frizzell tries; G Widdop 6 gls). Halftime: 10-0.