Herald rugby league writer Michael Burgess lists three things we learned from the Warriors 15-14 golden point loss to the Manly Sea Eagles.
Boy-o-boy. By any measure, this was the most frustrating loss of the season. The defeats to the Storm (round three) and the Sharks were also hard to take, but they are both top drawer sides. The Sea Eagles are not. Manly produced one of their best performances of the year - and played with admirable effort - but are the sort of team you just have to put away if you want to be a serious contender. Unfortunately the Warriors kept finding ways to help Manly stay in the match, through mistakes, penalties and poor decisions. The Warriors didn't play that badly - there was plenty of good stuff - but composure failed them at crucial moments.
Coaches under the microscope
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Andrew McFadden and his coaching staff will again be under the microscope today, for their use of the interchange bench. The decision to pick Tui Lolohea in the 17 - but then not use him at all during the 80 minutes - was unusual. In McFadden's defence, no one had foreseen the awful conditions in Perth and it was an extremely tight game, which probably made him reluctant to throw Lolohea on.
But it also does defy conventional NRL wisdom, as there are few other teams in the NRL that carry a back on the bench. And it was compounded by Manu Vatuvei having a poor game, when it looked like `the Beast' needed to get a game in reserve grade under his belt. In a rugged game of extremely fine margins, the Warriors would have got more value out of another forward on the bench and Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett got the interchange equation just right.
Afoa on the up
In two games at the top level, Bunty Afoa has shown enough to indicate he has a bright future in the NRL. His angled runs off Shanu Johnson for two tries caught the eye, and though future opponents will be more aware of his threats, his pace and power are impressive. At only 19-years-old, Afoa looks a good deputy to Ryan Hoffman and Bodene Thompson and should become a regular feature in the 17 over the coming weeks.