Warriors fans had drifted away long before the rain at Mt Smart Stadium sent some looking for cover.

Most were still there in body, but the spirit was weak. Gone. There was nothing that could be described as a match-turning Mt Smart roar on Saturday night.

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The Storm and Roosters had already sign-posted what was in store. Those clinging to their seats weren't clinging to hope. They knew by halftime the game was up, at 6 - 22, after the Burgess family of South Sydney had plundered.


The Rabbitohs didn't need to do much in the second spell. Like Anthony Joshua on Joseph Parker, no knockout blows were required. A dull stalemate ensued, an entertaining prospect lost.

When the Warriors are good, they can be very, very good. When they are bad, they are pathetically horrid.

Some pundits predicted the Warriors would collect the NRL's wooden spoon this year. Bizarrely, they are actually a top four side which plays like a wooden spoon team without a hope in hell of winning the title.

They are so awful at times that their NRL position is a miracle, like turning up to a press conference and finding Wayne Bennett doing comedy.

The more this season goes on, the more the good stuff of 2018 feels like a freaky, hard-to-explain storm, and one which would not be repeatable.

About the only solace for the damp Warriors fans on Saturday night was that Dragons forward Leeson Ah Mau has agreed a three-year deal with the club, although it is not officially confirmed. The really bad news is he only arrives next year.

Given the carnage that Sam Burgess and co. wreaked, and remembering the Storm/Roosters disasters, Ah Mau alone won't be enough to take this club anywhere.

The Warriors should still make the top eight but this is a castle built on sand and coach Steve Kearney will have to be ruthless in taking the club ahead by cutting the dead wood.

For my money, the problems start in the middle of the field, which exacerbates other issues such as Solomone Kata's limited football ability in the centres, Peta Hiku's defence, and erratic contributions from the all-important big wings.

The downside of Adam Blair's signing is also starting to be exposed, especially if his wages stopped the club from recruiting a top class prop — or middle forward as they are now called — capable of confronting the best players in the NRL.

Souths celebrate the try of Greg Inglis. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Souths celebrate the try of Greg Inglis. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

With a weak set of props, the ageing No. 13 Blair — signed for three years and a terrific contributor in some ways — becomes a liability.

In the hour of need on Saturday night, Kiwis captain Blair went missing in time (he played a mere 47 minutes) and impact. His lost possession — or was it a tricky attempt to milk a stripping penalty gone badly wrong — was also a pivotal early moment when the Warriors were in charge..

Forget the numbers and look at the confrontations. It makes for bad viewing.

And Blair wasn't alone as a battling veteran: Simon Mannering is slipping off tackles and towards probable retirement.

On a good night, the Warriors can move up the field if their wings are in the mood and hooker Issac Luke is firing. Huge momentum is provided by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck from fullback, but unfortunately he is the only middle player always on his game.

The rest are a bit of a lottery.

Defensively, the Warriors' middle forwards get chewed up and spat out. It has happened three times already this year. South Sydney are a terrific side, but they were given the freedom of Mt Smart Stadium.

Take out Jazz Tevaga's spirit and inventiveness, and Tuviasa-Sheck's standard-issue class, and there wasn't much left.

The Warriors might be the first top four side to have a negative points differential, which says a lot.