NZ Warriors fall flat again in loss to Canberra Raiders for sixth straight defeat
Once again Stephen Kearney didn't get what he wanted out of his players as the Warriors slumped to their sixth defeat on the trot.
The 36-16 loss to the Raiders at a rainy Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday afternoon typified all that's gone wrong this year.
Some good effort in patches, but it wasn't converted into points and errors and sloppy defence proved costly.
Kearney blasted his players after their loss to the Knights last weekend for not trying. That wasn't as much a factor in this game, more a case of them being outclassed and having no confidence.
"It's another disappointing night," lamented Kearney afterwards.
"There were periods of the game where I thought the lads really competed and got themselves back into an arm wrestle.
"Around the 60-minute mark of the second half where we'd completed the first 10 sets of the half, then made a number of errors back to back.
"We just didn't show enough resilience when we made those errors and ultimately that's what hurt us."
The likes of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ata Hingano and Mason Lino stood out and other than the last 20 minutes, they were able to live with a Raiders team that's still got plenty to play for.
But that's all of little consolation to Kearney.
"When you get beat 36-16, that doesn't make me happy," he said.
"We spent a fair bit of time down on their tryline for the start of the second half and at the minute we're lacking a bit of confidence and polish to take those opportunities.
"Consequently we fell away in the last quarter, which was disappointing."
Yes, the Warriors are missing Shaun Johnson, Kieran Foran and Bodene Thompson and there are players in the team don't yet look ready for NRL level footy, but Kearney says he has high expectations of anyone who pulls on a Warriors jersey.
"In this competition, when you make an error you've got to have the resilience to defend that error," he said.
"There were easy defensive reads and I can't keep making excuses for them, because it's just not good enough at this level.
"Regardless of whether you've played 15 or 20 games of NRL, you've been assigned to do a job and if you're missing your assignment you're letting your team down and there was a bit of that tonight with some of the defence, particularly in the last quarter and even in a couple of their tries in the first half."
There's nothing remarkable in the Warriors losing as it's happened in 14 of their 21 games this season and you have to go back to June 23 for their last victory.
But there was a different atmosphere among the small crowd of 10,182 for this game.
With the ownership of the Warriors in question following the news earlier in the day that Auckland businessman Paul Davys is looking to buy the club off Eric Watson, the result of this game became a secondary factor.
The players have been kept in the dark about what's happening and at the start of this game it didn't look like this was something on their minds and they came close to scoring in the fifth minute, when they had an overlap on the right edge, however Blake Ayshford's pass to David Fusitu'a was forward.
Within a minute there was another opportunity as a grubber went through in goal to Solomone Kata, but he was unable to ground the ball and injured his shoulder in the attempt.
As has been the case so often the season, the Warriors quickly paid the price for not making the most of chances, as straight away the Raiders broke down their left edge and Nick Cotric scored.
The Warriors never really got back in the game from that point as the Raiders showed the difference between a team that's playing with confidence and eyes set on a top eight spot and one that's not.
Tries came at regular intervals for the Raiders, while the Warriors did get three, to David Fusitu'a Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Isaiah Papali'i.
However they never looked like building any momentum after scoring and the Raiders ended up comfortable winners.
The week ahead promises to be another one where the Warriors are a main talking point, but thankfully for the players, who once again disappointed, it's unlikely to be about them.
Canberra Raiders 36 (Nick Cotric 2, Jarrod Croker, Blake Austin, Joey Leilua, Jordan Rapana tries; Croker 5 goals). NZ Warriors 16 (David Fusitu'a, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Isaiah Papali'i tries; Mason Lino 3 goals). HT: 18-6