TWL RD 11 WRAP: WARRIORS OVERWHELMED IN BRONCOS SLUGFEST

The Warriors showed plenty of guts but a frustrating lack of execution and fluency to go down 8-2 to Brisbane in an Indigenous Round arm-wrestle.

Despite dominating for long periods, the Warriors repeatedly came up empty in their quest for a try – and an Anthony Milford strike on the hour mark proved enough to secure a win for the equally gritty visitors.

The big, athletic Broncos gained the early physical advantage but couldn’t convert a couple of shots at the Warriors’ try-line.

The home side regrouped, drew a pair of penalties and forced some errors before landing on the scoreboard first through a Patrick Herbert penalty goal after 14 minutes.

But a subsequent wasted opportunity – with Kodi Nikorima firing a pass over the sideline 10 metres out from the Broncos’ line – led to a lengthy period of relentless pressure from the visitors.

The Warriors escaped unscathed, however, and the stream of penalties continued to flow predominantly in their direction.

With Payne Haas and Matt Lodge off the field, the Warriors also gained authority in the middle third. But like their opponents, they couldn’t find a breakthrough four-pointer.

The Broncos levelled up a 2-all after the halftime siren via Kiwi Test winger Jamayne Isaako’s boot following a welcome third penalty – after they had given up eight in the opening 40.

On the surface the Warriors arguably had greater cause to be disappointed with the soccer-esque scoreline. Their execution in the red-zone was certainly poorer. But a 17-5 tackle-break count in the Broncos’ favour underlined the Warriors’ excellent scrambling defence.

An absorbing opening 20 minutes of the second stanza followed an identical script. Both teams had chances but tough and desperate defence was the overriding storyline.

But a cheap, dumb, reserve-grade-return-worthy penalty from Ligi Sao invited Brisbane downfield for the belated first try. Anthony Milford cruised through from first receiver on the last tackle, belying the difficulty both attacks had endured in the previous hour.

The Broncos had their tails up and the Warriors did well not to concede again in the ensuing few sets.

During a tense, frantic final 15 minutes the Warriors were either handed or worked their way into position for a potential leveller several times, but excruciating errors from the likes of Tohu Harris and – as the siren sounded – Issac Luke thwarted hopes of golden point.

There were positives to be drawn for the Warriors, particularly defensively. Conceding just one try is always a pretty handy outcome. The forwards matched their big Broncos counterparts impressively across the 80 minutes.

But their offensive plans should come under scrutiny. No one appeared on the same page, they played far too sideways on a dewy night, and they favoured their left side far too often, with the Herbert-Fusitu’a combination on the right catching a cold.

Blake Green’s kicking game was again found wanting; Kodi Nikorima, who also could have tried to take more responsibility as the match wore on, needs to provide another regular option with the boot in general play (especially after producing a brilliant impromptu kick to force a repeat set in the first half).

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck also struggled to inject himself and find fluency with the rest of his spine. The inspirational Jazz Tevaga’s injury exit before halftime was also a factor.

It’s a tough result to take into the bye, particularly as the Warriors will drop to at least 12th by the end of the weekend; a win could have seen them sitting in seventh.

But on balance they have a far better base to work off than they did heading into Magic Round. The result does, however, dint confidence and heighten the importance of their Round 13 showdown against the Storm.

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