A Matter of Missed Opportunties

As we watched Captain Mannering lead the boys through the tunnel to the sound of the drummers, we wanted to reminisce, not re-live that meeting with the Broncos from 20 years earlier. But with Alfie Langer in attendance, we should have known Brisbane was out to spoil the big occasion once again.

The men from Mt Smart started the game well, and Shaun Johnson could well have put them ahead but for a 50/50 call that ruled out a try. To be fair, it was probably the correct decision, but on another day it could have gone the other way, and unfortunately that was a sign of things to come. To quote Andrew Voss ‘It wasn’t to me, but it was to you, Darryl, so the answer’s a pineapple’.

But to blame the referees or bad luck would be an unfair reflection of the Warriors’ own expectations. You can’t complete only 22 of 38 sets and expect to win an NRL game. You also can’t only play for 40 minutes and expect to win. It’s as simple as that. In both of the Warriors’ two losses so far this season, it’s been the basics that have been their downfall. Moments like this summed up the day:

A Jonathan Wright error, followed by a repeat set and a peach of a pass from Justin Hodges led to the first try. A 50/50 penalty, another repeat set and suddenly it was 10–0.

Chad Townsend had the home fans on their feet for a second.

But when he failed to connect with Sam Lisone on the inside, Brisbane forced a goal-line dropout at the other end within a minute and the Warriors just couldn’t get their hands on the ball. When they did, they tended to rush things, and the half finished with another error at the wrong end of the park that led to a Broncos try.

16–0 down at the break, with 9 errors and only 34% of possession — you could hardly have blamed anyone for leaving early to watch the cricket.

The second half threatened to offer more of the same when the Hungry, Hungry Hippo spilled his marbles in the first hit-up. But, at the 46-minute mark, Townsend’s try from a Jonathan Wright tap-back provided the first glimmer of hope.

The next set nearly burst the game wide open. After a try-saver from Jordan Kahu stopped Solomone Kata from making it 16–12, Andrew McCulloch could easily have been sin-binned for his cynical professional foul on The Beast.

However, McCulloch’s foul temporarily halted the Warriors’ charge and after a further 20 minutes of impatient football, the score was still 16–6.

And then this happened, evoking memories of the ‘razzle dazzle’ ‘Warrior-ball’ of yesteryear:

And then this:

It seemed we were to be rewarded for dreaming big.

Johnson missed a very kickable conversion that would have given the Warriors the lead, but you could feel the momentum had totally shifted even though the score was level.

Unfortunately, it only takes a second for momentum to swing, and after a great set on defence forced Corey Parker into a rushed clearance, Solomone Kata’s error took the air out of Our Rightful Home.

The Broncos steadily moved towards the money zone, were gifted 2 points by a dubious penalty, then scored another questionable try in the final minute to put an end to the comeback. At the final whistle, it was Brisbane 24, Warriors 16.

SET OF SIX

1) I really hope this game doesn’t come back to bite the Warriors come September. Games like this are the most frustrating ones to lose. Even despite the errors, they had plenty of opportunities to collect the 2 points and ultimately should have come away with the win.

2) On another day, with different referees, this game could have been totally reversed. So many 50/50 decisions had a huge impact on the match, and while it doesn’t excuse the mistakes the Warriors made, it certainly highlights the subjective nature of refereeing.

3) Take the penalty against Ben Matulino (for not being square at marker) that made it 18–16 Brisbane with 5 minutes to go.

And then compare that to Shaun Johnson a couple of minutes later. Which looks worse to you?

4) Should this be a knock-on?

I’m not really sure what the solution is, but giving the opposition 6 more tackles when a defender touches the ball while making a tackle seems like too big of an advantage to me.

5) Corey Parker has become an offloading machine. I’m not sure quite how he does it, but he seems to get those arms free in every hit-up. The way he’s able to draw in defenders and offload basically gives Brisbane an extra tackle every set, as well as providing great opportunities in broken play for the likes of Milford and Hunt to capitalise.

6) Let’s hope Ben Henry’s knee injury isn’t serious. He’s struggled to find his role in the side this year, but he’s got a great attitude and it would be a crushing blow to his confidence if he’s out for an extended period of time again. Fingers crossed, Ben.

THE GOLDEN POINT

How on earth is this not a knock-on?

With enough time still left on the clock, the correct decision here would have given the Warriors a great chance to steal it at the death.

Or this one? The decision had little relevance in the end but surely it is hard to argue the Brisbane player hasn’t lost it in trying to force the ball.

Two further decisions that show the flawed nature of the knock-on rule in rugby league.

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