Warriors v Penrith
If ever a game told the tale of the Warriors this season, their 19-18 golden point loss to Penrith was it. They had opportunities to run up the score on the Panthers, last season they would have, as the refs were on their side with two sin bins (the second being dubious). But the Warriors through their conservative and passive style, almost similar to the Black Caps, let the Panthers come back and take the lead with less than two minutes to go. Penrith then gives up a penalty, Warriors tie, and then in OT do the same passive conservative shit and lose to a James Maloney drop goal.
Karl Lawton starting at hooker and Jazz Tevaga starting at lock really got momentum for the Warriors in the first half as the pair ran and spun like two RBs in a Madden video game. Bunty Afoa and Sam Lisone were aggressive when coming off the bench while Isaiah Papalii played his best game of the season with several bone crunching hits.
Another positive was watching James Maloney have a meltdown when the two sin bins happened, really thought he might get sent off as well.
A lot. Again, this loss defined the whole season.
Their strategy and game management was the thing that lost this game.
The Warriors allowed the Panthers too much room to run. Watching it from Mt Smart you saw Penrith running 10 metres on every play while the Warriors stood back and let the attack come to them. They also allowed the Panthers to offload at will which the Panthers did nicely.
Kearney has been shit at managing his bench this year and he did it here with Nathaniel Roache, whose career he has probably just ended.
There was about 25 minutes to go in the game and it was obvious Roache was buggered, a perfect time to bring Lawton back on to change the tempo of the game. Nope, he leaves Roache out there, who has just returned from yet another lengthy injury, and with around 15 minutes to go Roache goes for a dummyhalf run and blows out his ACL. Had he pulled him when he was already tired Roache would be ready for next week. Now his career is done. Fin. Nice work Mooks.
Another career ending is that of Blake Green who is too old to carry this team around. Chanel Harris-Tevita or Adam Keighran better be ready to play some games in 2020 because I doubt Green can play the whole 2020 season.
Instead of wasting cap space on Matt Lodge the Warriors would be wiser to spend some money on a replacement halfback like Aidan Sezer or Sam Williams from Canberra, both of whom are available, or Ryley Jacks from the Gold Coast. The Warriors can still pick up a good frontrower in Lachlan Timm who is doing well in the NSW Cup and would be a cheap acquisition.