TWL revives its ‘What They Said’ column for the first time in 2019 following the overwhelming reaction from the Warriors’ 13-12 loss to Melbourne on Anzac Day.
Across the board, there were four standout themes: one of the Warriors’ all-time gutsiest performances; the Storm hoodwinked the refs yet again; Patrick Herbert rules; and Adam Blair’s unwillingness to run the ball is reaching farcical proportions.
What the Warriors said
Cleary proud of the way his patched-up team dug in after a difficult lead-in, coach Stephen Kearney was nevertheless typically understated in the post-match presser.
That is, until the subject of the refereeing came up. “Don’t get me started,” Kearney started, before getting started on a carefully-put critique of the officials’ skewed performance in favour of the home side.
"We've just got to keep working hard" – Kearney on building on the effort put in against the Storm.
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) April 25, 2019
He also attempted to put the RTS injury kerfuffle to bed:
— Stuff.co.nz Sport (@NZStuffSport) April 25, 2019
And as if we couldn’t be any more in love with brilliant debutant Patrick Herbert, he gave cracking post-match interviews to Nine’s Ruan Sims and the club’s media.
— 1 NEWS – Sport (@1NewsSportNZ) April 25, 2019
What the Storm said
Melbourne match-winner Brodie Croft said the Warriors deserved to win the match in a rare but admirable post-match admission.
Craig Bellamy was effusive in his praise of the Warriors as well:
🗣 CB “I thought we were really scattered in the first half, it was a little bit like last week. The Warriors were really gutsy, I’ve really got to give them some credit”
— Melbourne Storm (@storm) April 25, 2019
What the fans said
After a tumultuous build-up that had sparked widespread despondency among the fanbase, the response to the Warriors’ performance was heartening to say the least.
#NRLStormWarriors #nrl great effort by @NZWarriors on Anzac day. You did NZ proud!!! Written off by a lot of People the @NZWarriors manned up defensively & were very unlucky not to win. Another set of officials might've made different interpretations on play the balls
— Christian Hansen (@cpHansen3) April 25, 2019
Still dirty over #NRLStormWarriors but that’s the kind of Warriors I’m to support showed balls to the wall defence and the new kids stepped up didn’t give up.
— dubz1 (@foxydubz1) April 25, 2019
Big love for Patty Herbert, too…Kata would be in deep trouble if it was purely up to the fans.
#NRLStormWarriors Patrick Herbert in his 1st ever game for the Warriors is already a better footballer than Sol Kata. I see him being an inconsistent, error prone player on both sides of the ball much in the same vein as Konrad Hurrell.
— BENNY G (@BENNYGNFL) April 25, 2019
Patrick Herbert was better
— WarriorsNrlFanatics (@FanaticsNrl) April 25, 2019
Patrick Herbert tho! What a superstar! 🌟
— Brooke (@03_Brookey) April 25, 2019
Inevitably, the refs copped an almighty bake from Warriors (and neutral) supporters.
What a crap penalty. Storm have been holding the tackles all night but you decide to penalise it with a few minutes left right in front of the post #NRLStormWarriors
— Tiffany Salmond (@tiffany_salmond) April 25, 2019
— Ra Pomare (@RaPomare) April 25, 2019
As a neutral, you have to feel for the Warriors & their fans tonight.
The refs deadset gifted that to the Storm tonight. Not only the last penalty, but the entire 2nd half.
Great defensive effort by the Warriors, they dug in all evening; very hard done by #NRL #NRLStormWarriors
— PoliTwit (@twit_poli) April 25, 2019
Your refs ruin yet another Rugby League match. DISGRACEFUL! I'm not even a warriors fan but you're about to lose another NRL fan
These are either match fixed or your refs have their eyes painted on. Fix the game up, NO accountability!#NRLStormWarriors
— Joshy Boylan (@SmithBoylan) April 25, 2019
Death, Taxes and the refs bailing the storm out of trouble #NRLStormWarriors
— Sean Lucey (@Sean_Lucey) April 25, 2019
What the Kiwi media said
The NZ Herald’s Michael Burgess led off with the heartbreaking and controversial nature of the defeat, but praised the Warriors’ defensive attitude and backline improvement.
Stuff’s Marvin France’s also hailed the visitors defence and backs-to-the-wall effort with several key players out.
Jason Oliver bullet-pointed his hot takes, all of them sound:
Quick #NRLStormWarriors thoughts:
• CHT played about 100 games above his experience
• Harris & Hiku were great in their makeshift roles
• Blair (yeah, 1 run) was really good
• Herbert is surely the new starting centre
• Needed Luke late
• I’d almost rather they lost by 50
— Jason Oliver (@JasonNRL) April 25, 2019
NZ-based Aussie Craig Norenbergs tweeted what everyone was thinking:
I greatly admire the @storm’s professionalism… but geez… they get a truck-load of 50-50 calls go their way every week. Enough to see them make the finals every year and keep “key market” Melbourne interested. #conspiracytheory #NRLStormWarriors
— Craig Norenbergs (@CraigNorenbergs) April 25, 2019
Long-time Herald rugby league scribe Dale Budge took a few minutes off his newfound role as President of the Adam Blair Fan Club to pay tribute to the Warriors’ stoic display and bemoan the refs’ efforts.
The wrong team won this game. The Warriors deserved that one. Storm got every 50/50 call in the second half including the one that ultimately gave them the chance to win with the field goal. Feel sorry for the Warriors tonight.
— Play the Ball (@playtheballnz) April 25, 2019
There are probably a few people that owe Stephen Kearney and his side some apologies tonight. That was a fine performance and should have been two points.
— Play the Ball (@playtheballnz) April 25, 2019
From an Ashburton Guardian reporter – love this:
— Erin Tasker (@TaskerErin) April 25, 2019
A bit of credit, too, for a stirring build-up to the Anzac Day clash, which was somewhat lost amid the drama and controversy the 80 minutes contained.
I’m no bugle expert, but that literally sounded like the perfect playing of the Last Post. Beautiful #NRLStormWarriors
— Guy Heveldt (@GuyHeveldt) April 25, 2019
Don’t wanna brag, Jamie Wall, but we’ve been pushing The Herb’s barrow since his standout trial performance against the Storm in February.
I just want to reiterate that I've been on the Patrick Herbert bandwagon since five weeks ago when I discovered him in the @CanterburyCup.
— Jamie Wall (@JamieWall2) April 25, 2019
What the Aussie media said
Big League’s Martin Gabor – who we’ve heard is a Storm supporter – was lavish in his praise of the Warriors, while also admitted the better team lost.
Storm did not deserve to win that. I hope every @NZWarriors fan remembers this performance for the rest of their lives. Probably the gutsiest effort they’ve put in since they joined the competition. Melbourne showed class to find a way, but that’s cruel for NZ #NRLStormWarriors
— Martin Gabor (@MartinJGabor) April 25, 2019
Big League editor Maria Tsialis and NRL.com’s Katie Brown had half an eye on spunky rookie CHT’s style in the heat of battle.
I was thinking it… but you said it! https://t.co/73P1OlEL5a
— Katie Brown (@katiebrownaus) April 25, 2019
Another Big League staffer, Darcie McDonald was smitten with the whole extravaganza.
— Darcie McDonald (@DarcieMcDonald) April 25, 2019
Moley knows what’s up.
Cruel game, rugby league.
No way do @storm deserve to win this.
— The Mole (@9_Moley) April 25, 2019
Retired legend Billy Slater used his commentary debut to show embarrassing bias towards his old Storm cronies – luckily we get the Fox coverage only in NZ.
I respect Billy Slater as a player but their is NO way he is not bias towards the Storm whilst commentating and it’s so irritating to listen to… #NRLStormWarriors
— Hannah (@hclaire29) April 25, 2019
— Sandy Hunter 🌈🐶💕 (@sandyhunter2) April 25, 2019
But the rest of the Channel Nine crew were emphatic about the referees’ pivotal last penalty.
Paul Vautin: “I really feel for the Warriors, they should have won it but it’s an 80 minute game. It was very dicey. There are about 10 of those a game.”
Johnathan Thurston: “No way. We’ve seen those go all year and the last couple of years. The referees are allowing that in the game, the boys holding on and slowing the play the ball down. He’s got to play it correctly.”
— Stuff.co.nz Sport (@NZStuffSport) April 25, 2019
More derision for the officials among the Aussie media fraternity:
Geez.. No matter how many times I watch the Storm play they get away with absolute murder in the ruck & can “earn” a penalty whenever they want. Shocking. I counted 10+ tackles tonight where Melbourne hung on for 4 seconds or more without being punished. #NRLStormWarriors
— Matt Attard (@mattard90) April 25, 2019
I hate how a team up against it with star players out put in a spirited performance like that away from home and get dudded. @NZWarriors were the better team tonight. Wrong call by Cecchin bloke didn’t get to his feet,poor play the ball. #NRLStormWarriors #NRL
— Nick Rysk (@nick_rysk) April 25, 2019
A couple of Fox Sports digital dudes have climbed into the Warriors’ selection decisions and Adam Blair.
'They've got no halfback. No halfback, at all'
— FOX LEAGUE (@FOXNRL) April 26, 2019
Unheralded grafter Lachlan Burr is showing fellow Warrior Adam Blair the meaning of value for money
— FOX LEAGUE (@FOXNRL) April 25, 2019
Sporting News put Blair under the microscope too, but with a cool graphic:
After 80 minutes against the Storm, these were Adam Blair's stats.
— Sporting News Australia (@sportingnewsau) April 25, 2019
Andrew Ferguson followed suit a bit of 2018 grand final-related wit:
Blair has contributed zero to the Warriors attack since scoring his try.
— Andrew Ferguson (@AndrewRLP) April 25, 2019
What we said
— This Warriors Life (@thiswarriorslyf) April 25, 2019