Con­fi­dence worry for War­riors

The Press - - Entertainment - MARVIN FRANCE

With their fi­nals drought set to stretch to a sixth sea­son, War­riors man­age­ment face yet an­other end-ofyear re­view pon­der­ing where it all went wrong.

But of more im­me­di­ate con­cern for coach Stephen Kear­ney is just how to get a team that is al­ready phys­i­cally and men­tally bruised up for the re­main­ing five games.

Fri­day night’s 26-12 de­feat to Cronulla in Auck­land – their fourth con­sec­u­tive de­feat – has left the War­riors six points out­side the top eight and while they still have a math­e­mat­i­cal chance of scrap­ing into the play-offs, it is not go­ing to hap­pen. Not based on what they have shown for the ma­jor­ity of the sea­son.

The play­ers were say­ing all the right things af­ter the game but on the field they played like a team down on con­fi­dence, which Kear­ney ad­mit­ted as much in the post-match press con­fer­ence.

Up against the last-placed Knights this week­end, the War­riors have a golden op­por­tu­nity to at least snap their los­ing streak.

But if they head to New­cas­tle with the wrong at­ti­tude sim­ply ex­pect­ing to win, the Knights are more than ca­pa­ble of adding fur­ther em­bar­rass­ment, as they showed with Sat­ur­day’s 21-14 vic­tory over the Dragons.

‘‘There’s no doubt there’s a bit of lack of con­fi­dence at the minute. That plays a part, a bit of anx­i­ety,’’ Kear­ney said.

‘‘Some of the en­ergy and ef­fort was re­ally well di­rected. But there were times there where we let our­selves down. Their first two tries we pretty much gifted to them and in this com­pe­ti­tion against the reign­ing pre­miers, you just can’t do that.’’

The War­riors de­fended well for large pe­ri­ods against the Sharks and had no prob­lem get­ting over the ad­van­tage line, out-run­ning the vis­i­tors in to­tal me­tres gained by 100m.

But any mo­men­tum gen­er­ated in at­tack dis­ap­peared as soon they stepped into the Sharks’ red zone, con­tin­u­ally com­ing un­stuck with poor han­dling or passes that failed to find the tar­get. For all the talk dur­ing the week about im­prov­ing their ex­e­cu­tion with the ball, the War­riors ac­tu­ally took a step back­wards.

But Ken Mau­malo, whose fail­ure to clean up a grub­ber kick led to the Sharks’ open­ing try, in­sisted it would not be hard to fix.

‘‘It’s just ba­sic pass and catch,’’ the winger said. ‘‘I think it was a lack of con­cen­tra­tion from the boys, it was the pass not hit­ting the money and that’s what cost us.’’

Of their faint fi­nals chances, Mau­malo added: ‘‘It’s never over. ‘‘Th­ese last five weeks we’ve got to string some wins to­gether and hope­fully the teams in top eight lose, it’s as sim­ple as that. We just need to win.’’

The War­riors’ hor­ror run with in­juries con­tin­ued on Fri­day with ex­pe­ri­enced back-rower Bo­dene Thomp­son suf­fer­ing a sus­pected torn pec­toral. The in­jury, if con­firmed, would rule Thomp­son out for the rest of the sea­son, join­ing Shaun John­son (knee), Ryan Hoff­man (foot), Al­bert Vete (arm) and Nathaniel Roache (ham­string) on the side­lines.

Kear­ney will have Sam Lisone avail­able, though, af­ter the NRL match re­view com­mit­tee opted not to charge the prop for lift­ing his knee in a run that knocked out Cronulla’s Fa’amanu Brown. The five-eighth was car­ried from the field and taken to hos­pi­tal but has since been cleared of se­ri­ous in­jury.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Where have we seen this be­fore as the War­riors 26-12 loss to the Cronulla Sharks on Fri­day night sinks in.

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