Joining NRL News to write his first match report is Warriors tragic, Justin Cameron (@NRLIsLife). It’s been a tough year so far for the Warriors and Justin has cast his eye over the game, what went wrong for the Warriors and why the Raiders won.
Another demoralizing loss for the New Zealand Warriors, this time losing 38-12 to the Canberra Raiders. If Andrew McFadden’s job wasn’t already hanging in the balance, well then it certainly is now.
He appears to have lost the dressing room, as the players look disinterested. There is a very apparent lack of effort characterized by many basic errors: dropped ball, passes not going to hand, countless missed tackles (14 in the first half) and the concession of stupid and soft penalties.
Even the ever-dependable Simon Mannering was in on the act – making several uncharacteristic errors. Despite all this, it took until the 18th minute for the Warriors to concede – Blake Austin with the try. All it took was a slight feint and dummy, and Isaac Luke was beaten. And although two defenders appeared to have him contained, he still managed to shrug them off and score.
The Warriors almost hit back immediately when an attempted Shaun Johnson grubber fell rather fortuitously for Bodene Thompson. All he had to do was gather and score (the ball was over the tryline), but tragically he blew the chance, knocking on scoring would perhaps have been easier.
On the back of this chance, the Warriors gave away a penalty, and Canberra opted to take a shot at goal. Croker made no mistake. This 8-nil lead soon became 14 as the Raiders exerted their control on the match. Joey Leilua picking it up from dummy half, and kicked for himself. The ball bounced off Hoffman, and fortuitously fell for Leilua to regather and score.
The Warriors soon gave away another penalty in their own half, and Jarrod Croker made them pay. Blake Ayshford was the defender to blame this time. He left a gaping hole, by not pushing out – perhaps showing a lack of faith in his inside men – and Croker took advantage, brushing off his attempted tackle and running through for the try.
There was still time for the Warriors to give away another kickable penalty. Josh Hodgson opted to take the two, and the Raiders went into half-time with a 22-nil lead.
The half-time message from McFadden seemed to have some effect. There was a noticeable increase in intensity, particularly from Sam Lisone and Jacob Lillyman.
On the back of a penalty, Bodene Thompson went oh so close, only to be denied by terrific goal line defence. On the next (and final) play, Lisone was held up over the line. However, the Warriors were at least looking a bit more threatening.
Moments later, the Warriors got their reward – a try on the back of a Jack Wighton error. Sam Lisone with the initial burst, committing several tacklers. This left the Raiders short on their left edge, and Bodene Thompson managed to commit what remained of it, before offloading thus enabling Shaun Johnson to go over in the corner untouched. Johnson then added the extras, converting from the sideline.
However, if the Warriors were going to get back into the game – they needed to score again and quickly. Thankfully a call went their way: Leilua was adjudged to have knocked on, even when it was clearly a two-man strip. But unfortunately – as had been the case all night – the last play option was poor, as Johnson massively overcooked his grubber into the in goal.
All chances of a miraculous comeback looked over, and so it proved. Another basic error resulted in a try to Josh Papalii (David Fusitua dropping a pass off the back of a scrum).
And it just continued to get worse. More errors – this time Isaac Luke and Blake Ayshford – both lead directly to tries, as the scoreline blew out.
Ayshford scored a late consolation, but by this point – the Taranaki crowd had seen enough.
Defensively, the Raiders were in control and their efforts did not go unnoticed by coach Ricky Stuart.
“I was impressed with the defence for the whole 80 minutes, they scored one try in that second half, that second try they scored was 50-50,” Stuart said.
“The way we defended our goal line was a big improvement on some of our defence at the start of the season and last year.”
On the flip side, the Warriors put forth nothing but real talk. McFadden launched a scathing attack on his players, saying that changes can be expected.
“We showed some real softness tonight, obviously our defence just gave up too many soft points,” McFadden said.
“I thought we had half a dozen blokes who didn’t show the urgency or the desire you need to play first grade tonight; it’s embarrassing.
“I need to find people who are willing to put their body on the line.
“It’s wearing pretty thin to be honest with you… I think the talk, it’s time for something else.”
Player of the Game:
3. Josh Hodgson
2. Sam Lisone
1. Josh Papalii
Canberra Raiders 38 (Austin, Leilua, Croker, Papalii, Hodgson, Lee tries; Croker 7 goals) defeated NZ Warriors 12 (Johnson, Ayshford tries; Johnson 2 goa. Halftime: Raiders 22-nil. Crowd: 12,833.