Panthers 26
Warriors 0

A week of guarded optimism about the Warriors' 2020 season proved to be false hope.

After smashing the Dragons when the NRL resumed last week, the injury-hit Auckland side produced a shocker against the Penrith Panthers, crashing to a 26-0 defeat.

All the traditional concerns about the Warriors' inability to string strong performances together bubbled to the surface as they suffered their third defeat in four matches.

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The obvious concern is their attack, which has managed a total of just one penalty try across the losses to Newcastle, Canberra and now Penrith.

Jack Murchie and Poasa Faamausili make a tackle on Viliame Kikau. Photo / Photosport
Jack Murchie and Poasa Faamausili make a tackle on Viliame Kikau. Photo / Photosport

The Warriors were brought back to earth with an increasingly loud thud after an immaculate effort against the Dragons.

They looked out of the hunt by halftime - wing Patrick Herbert's trouble under the high ball costing them dearly - and never threatened.

A spectacular team try from Penrith early in the second half confirmed that a comeback was beyond the Warriors in west Sydney.

Coming out at Campbelltown Stadium with a 16-0 advantage, Penrith struck quickly when Moses Leota burst through some weak tackling, the move including a lovely back flick pass from Viliame Kikau. Wing Josh Mansour scored unopposed near the lefthand corner.

The game was basically over then.

Having lost Agnatius Paasi to suspension and Peta Hiku to injury after the Dragons match, power wing Ken Maumalo was omitted because of a hamstring problem which will keep him out for a few weeks.

Yes, they are depleted.

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But the Warriors were their own worst enemy with an undisciplined performance against a Penrith side which often looked lost late in the tackle counts, as they await the return of their State of Origin playmaker Nathan Cleary.

The Warriors were in big trouble at halftime, Herbert's nightmare time under the Penrith bombs and two fine opportunist tries from Matthew Burton doing the damage.

The Warriors look dejected after conceding a try. Photo / Getty
The Warriors look dejected after conceding a try. Photo / Getty

Penrith had a territorial edge from the outset but their attack was limited, despite extravagant flourishes from halfback Jarome Luai which were more about style than substance.

Among those to torment the Warriors was hooker Api Koroisau, who the Auckland club had unsuccessfully targeted last year, and Northlander James Fisher-Harris.

There were worrying signs for the Warriors everywhere, particularly the lack of action out of dummy half from Wayde Egan and the failure of Kodi Nikorima to get his running game going.

Penrith needed some luck to get the scoreboard moving, and it came when right wing Herbert failed to grab a contested bomb. Five-eighth Burton picked up brilliantly and beat a lame Roger Tuivasa-Sheck tackle attempt.

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Midway through the spell, Burton had his second. Blake Green's low grubber kick hit Burton's heel just inside the Penrith half. He scooted after the rebound and beat the chasers to the line.

With Koroisau starting to do some damage, and Kiwi forward Fisher-Harris - playing at prop - having a storming game, Penrith were in command without looking overly commanding.

Enter Herbert again, unfortunately for the Warriors. Penrith were collectively superb under the Warriors bombs, but Herbert was all at sea.

He had plenty of time to take a bomb but awkwardly bounced it toward Kikau who grabbed it superbly, under pressure. Luai provided the finishing touch with a grubber kick for himself, and the Panthers' third try.

Minutes later, Herbert dropped another one, although he was saved by a penalty call.

The half finished with Penrith trying to launch a final impromptu attack, with more energy than expertise as the Warriors middle defence clung on unconvincingly.

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Panthers 26 (M. Burton 2, J. Luai, J. Mansour, B. Burns tries; S. Crichton 3 goals)
Warriors 0
HT: 16-0