Kear­ney says play­ers lost phys­i­cal bat­tle

Sunday News - - LEAGUE - DAVID LONG

WAR­RIORS coach Stephen Kear­ney con­ceded his play­ers weren’t able to phys­i­cally match the Bron­cos in their 27-18 loss at Mt Smart Sta­dium last night.

For the first time this year, the War­riors weren’t able to sing their vic­tory song at the end of a game and they were up against a de­ter­mined Bron­cos team, that won the bat­tle in the mid­dle of the park.

‘‘I was pretty dis­ap­pointed,’’ Kear­ney said after­wards.

‘‘I have to give credit to Bris­bane, they came here with a real com­mit­ment and in­tent about them right from the out­set and we didn’t match that.’’

Kear­ney said he knew at half­time that the play­ers needed to lift their in­ten­sity to get back in the game. They were only trail­ing by a point at that time, but in ev­ery other statis­tic, they were far be­hind.

‘‘Right from the out­set, I got the im­pres­sion that we had to work our­selves back into the con­test,’’ he said.

‘‘From a phys­i­cal point of view, you can’t al­low the op­po­si­tion to come at you, you’ve got to match that phys­i­cal­ity and I don’t think that im­proved a great deal over the game.’’

With the Bron­cos los­ing Kodi Niko­rima and Matt Gil­lett from the game with in­juries, the War­riors be­came the hot favourites for the vic­tory.

Kear­ney said he didn’t feel his play­ers took the op­po­si­tion too lightly though.

‘‘I didn’t get a sense of that,’’ he said.

‘‘Our fo­cus was on us and it’s a great les­son for us, that re­gard­less of the sit­u­a­tion, you’ve still got to turn up men­tally and get in the phys­i­cal bat­tle.

‘‘I don’t think it was ev­ery­one, but there was more not quite ready phys­i­cally tonight than what we’ve had in pre­vi­ous games.’’

Given the five wins at the be­gin­ning of the year, this loss brings the War­riors back to re­al­ity for some.

It’s not the end of the world and they’ve shown enough this year that they’re a good side, but they need to bounce back against the Dragons on Fri­day.

‘‘The im­por­tant thing for us is the les­son we can take from this loss,’’ Kear­ney said. ‘‘For me, it’s about mak­ing sure in­di­vid­u­ally and per­son­ally, that we take some own­er­ship of the sit­u­a­tion.’’

War­riors cap­tain Roger Tuiv­asa-Sheck held sim­i­lar views to Kear­ney that the team didn’t re­ally have that spark in this game.

‘‘We came out nice and calm and fo­cused on our goal,’’ he said. ‘‘But with the phys­i­cal bat­tle we weren’t re­spond­ing and we had too many mo­ments of us not re­spond­ing.

‘‘When we did re­spond we were able to score points, but there just wasn’t enough dur­ing the whole game.’’

Bron­cos coach Wayne Ben­nett had some wise words for the War­riors.

‘‘They started the sea­son well and a de­feat isn’t go­ing to hurt them, be­cause they played pretty well here tonight. They wouldn’t be too dis­ap­pointed in their ef­fort tonight, I’m sure they’ll pick the pieces up very quickly and move on.’’

War­riors half Blake Green.

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