Dragons fire up, the Warriors run out of puff

DAVID LONG AT EDEN PARK
Last updated 05:00 16/03/2014
Ben Creagh and Sam Tomkins
PHIL WALTER/ Getty
OUT OF PUFF: Sam Tomkins is held in the tackle by Dragon Ben Creagh.

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A season that offered so much promise is turning into a disaster for the Warriors as they were defeated 31-12 by the Dragons at Eden Park yesterday.

For the second straight year under the helm of Matt Elliott as head coach they find themselves off to a poor start in the competition and, with the Cowboys in Townsville coming up next week, the club could find themselves in a pretty sizeable hole.

It all started well with Sam Tomkins scoring his maiden try in the NRL and even though the Dragons got back into the game with a Mitch Rein try later, the score from Jerome Ropati before the break gave the Warriors a respectable 12-6 lead.

But within three minutes of the restart they leaked two soft tries as their world caved in and game plan went out the door.

Just as they did against the Eels the week before, heads dropped and players acted individually.

In all, 25 points were conceded in the second 40 minutes and, of further concern, it looks like Ben Henry has damaged the ACL in his left knee again in what was his first game back since early last season.

Elliott looked shell-shocked in the post-match media conference.

He admitted those 180 seconds were crucial, but that wasn't the only bad period.

"There are some other minutes that hurt as well, to be honest," Elliott said.

"I didn't even think our first half was where we set ourselves to be. So, definitely, the start of the second half was really disappointing."

What must be of concern to Warriors fans is that they can see how much talent is in this squad, but yet it's not coming together.

Elliott says his players prepare well, but when they get out onto the field he is now questioning their attitude.

"Our will to compete in the game at the moment could be questioned and I know we're a much better team than that," he said.

"The group of guys in there I've got a heap of belief in, are certainly being tested that they can do that. I know they will.

"We've really worked from a fair distance out on these first six games being a real key for us and obviously this was our first home game.

"Last week was a disappointment and I guess this one matches up."

The Warriors' cause wasn't helped by Manu Vatuvei withdrawing from the game on Friday because of an illness, but even so, Elliott feels they should have won this game.

Captain Simon Mannering is equally as gutted about how the 2014 campaign has begun and as the team's leader he believes it's time for the players to stand up and be accountable on the field.

"I've got to do something. I think we've got to do something collectively," Mannering said.

"I guess you can sit in a room and talk as much as you like, but it's a matter of what you do out on the field. We've got to start measuring things with actions, not with what we say we're going to do.

"We're doing the right things around training with our review, everything seems to be on the same page but we're not doing the right things on the field.

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"We had given ourselves a chance in that first half, we probably didn't score as many points as we would have liked with that wind.

"Still we were very positive coming out for the second half and talked about defending strong.

"Those first two sets showed that we weren't willing to apply that, that's probably the most disappointing thing.

"I felt we were more in it than the first game, but we just didn't have that fight after halftime."

SCOREBOARD

Warriors 12 (Sam Tomkins, Jerome Ropati tries; Shaun Johnson 2 goals)

Dragons 31 (Mitch Rein, Alan Quinlan, Gerrard Beale, Brett Morris, Ben Creagh tries; Gareth Widdop 4 goals, field goal)

HT: 12-6

- Sunday News

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