Unfortunately, Saturday night confirmed our worst fears — the men from Mt Smart aren’t actually playing very well.
Three wins against weak opposition had given us hope, but, not long after 8pm New Zealand time, that hope was well and truly crushed.
Perhaps the less said about the actual game the better, although the solitary try the Warriors did score was quite lovely. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words, and who better to hold the paintbrush than our very own Stephen McIvor.
Pre-game — hopes are high, we are excited, jovial even. 3 wins on the trot, can they make it 4?
8 minutes in — Oh no you didn’t, Jared Maxwell. Bryson Goodwin gets up after being held and strolls across the line for the first try of the match. Not impressed.
At the 18 minute mark — Jacob Lillyman looks set to score . . . but it’s not to be.
26 minutes on the clock — and the Warriors are in! A slick backline move is finished off by The Beast!
32 minutes — Captain Mannering’s down and out. Ouch!
36–40 — What’s happening?! For almost the entire first half, you could be forgiven for thinking the Warriors were playing well. It seemed like everything was against them — the referees, the bounce of the ball — but still, they were well in the match. But in a spell of 4 minutes before the break, the score goes from 4–10 to 4–22, and suddenly it’s panic stations. Even Monty looks worried now.
And Jared Maxwell thinks it’s funny?!
Wait till I get my hands on him.
50 minutes in — Souths go up 28–4 and we’re doomed.
For the final 30 minutes I’m sick to my stomach. I sit there secretly wishing I could turn the TV off, or at least change the channel, just so I don’t have to suffer anymore. To find something, anything to stop the bleeding. However, as much as I want to, I find I can’t bring myself to do it, can’t bring myself to look away, holding out hope that I’ll see a glimmer of positivity to hang on to, to take into next week.
Trying desperately to fend off the deep depression.
It is with a sense of relief that the final whistle goes, and, as much as it hurts, we have to put on a brave face and think of the positives. At least this happened in Round 13 — it’s too late for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke to change their minds now!
SET OF SIX
1) Let’s give South Sydney some credit. The Warriors weren’t good, but that still doesn’t take away the fact that Saturday night was an excellent performance from the Bunnies. For a side that had slipped under the radar somewhat, they certainly sent a clear message that they’re not going to give up their title without a fight.
2) Over-reaction is not a solution. For all the people on social media and on talkback that suggest the Warriors should sack the entire first-grade side, you should be careful what you wish for. The NSW Cup team took an even bigger hammering on Saturday afternoon, at home on Mt Smart #2, and it was perhaps the worst defensive display I have ever witnessed.
3) Did anyone else think it was strange Andrew McFadden said at halftime that the Warriors were ‘going to have to go for it’? Yes we were down 18 points, but if the first 12 rounds of the NRL have demonstrated anything, it’s that error-free football leads to points. Maybe that comment was out of context, or maybe he was frustrated with such a poor end to the first half, but it felt like panic to me, and that’s never a good sign.
4) Should Simon Mannering have gone back on the field? Okay, that’s a bit of a leading question, and if you’ve read our piece on concussion, then you probably know my answer.
5) When will the referees start penalising people for walking off the mark? It is right up there with my biggest pet hate in the game of rugby league, and the advantage it gives the attacking side is hugely understated. By walking off the mark, or to the side, you instantly put the markers either offside or not square, taking them out of play, as well as putting your side on the front foot. At worst, players get made to step back and play the ball in the correct spot, so unless referees start cracking down, why wouldn’t you have a go?
6) If there was one ray of hope on Saturday, it was Ken Maumalo. In just his second game in the top grade, he ran the ball without fear, denting the advantage line each time he touched it. At least he’s given Coach Cappy one positive headache at the selection meeting.
THE GOLDEN POINT
For any of us who dared to dream, this was the ultimate reality check. Saturday night made it very clear that the same old issues haven’t gone away. The bad is outweighing the good right now, as it has for the majority of the season. In every game there are some nice signs, but that 80-minute performance is proving mighty elusive. Until the Warriors can cut out the errors, they’ll continue to be good enough to scrape wins on pure talent against the weaker sides, but won’t be able to match it with the better teams. Be prepared for a dogfight for those 7th and 8th spots.