Herald rugby league writer Michael Burgess examines three talking points from the Warriors' 10-25 loss to the Broncos last night in Brisbane.

Spinal surgery required
Things were better across the board last night, but the output of the much vaunted spine remains a concern. Of the `fantastic four', Shaun Johnson didn't run enough, Jeff Robson probably ran too much, Issac Luke ran out of gas and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ran into problems whenever he got the ball.

Johnson had a quiet game. He didn't take on the line, couldn't find his range with his short kicking arsenal and generally lacked spark. Robson didn't shirk his workload but got caught with the ball far too often; his job is to put others into gaps, not find them himself. Luke was much improved on last week, especially in the first half but faded in the second spell as injuries meant he couldn't have a break. Tuivasa-Sheck is still not being utilised effectively; he didn't once receive the ball in a half gap last night, instead was usually at the end of a sideways passing chain and had at least two defenders on him.

Defence improves, but still limited
The Warriors' defensive effort was considerably better than last week. There was genuine application and attitude, and for long periods the Warriors were matching or ahead of the Broncos in the arm wrestle. The likes of Bodene Thompson, Ben Matulino and Simon Mannering made their presence felt on the edge of the ruck, as the Broncos struggled in the yardage game. But structurally it's still not right and the Brisbane penetrated far too easily for their four tries, and could have had two or three more.


Broncos far from their best
Brisbane have been labelled premiership favourites by most pundits but were far from those heights last night. That is both a credit to the Warriors - who forced them into numerous mistakes - and a concern, as the visitors were unable to capitalise on an off night from the Brisbane team.

Against most of the top eight contenders, the Broncos would have been put to the sword last night. But the Brisbane side were able to stifle a one dimensional Warriors attack, and score with relative ease themselves for an ultimately comfortable victory.