TWL RD 20 WRAP: RAIDERS RAVAGE WILTING WARRIORS

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Add this to the pantheon of rugby league quotes that don’t age well.

“If there’s a team that’s going to stand up on the back of some adversity, it’s ours,” Cameron George told club media on Monday.

The Warriors could not have done any more to make a mockery of their CEO’s call to arms in a pitiful 46-12 defeat to a rampant Canberra outfit after trailing 30-0 at halftime.

The hosts crumbled to a record-equalling sixth straight loss at Mt Smart Stadium – matching their embattled 1998-99 predecessors – when all the pre-game tough talk pointed to a character-laden display in the wake of the refereeing and judiciary debacle of the past week.

The resolve the Warriors showed in the previous six rounds dissipated like dandelion spores in a strong breeze as it quickly became apparent only one of the sides on the park will be still be playing midway through September.

The Raiders looked every bit the top-four heavyweight in the eight-tries-to-two rout, but the Warriors were so feeble in every department it would be premature to read too much into the Green Machine’s landslide result as far as their title credentials are concerned.

Canberra’s landslide advantages in possession (60%-40%), run metres (2,062-1,421), tackle-breaks (53-25) and offloads (17-6) went a long way to telling the tale of a putrid 80 minutes for Warriors fans.

The Warriors were absolutely destroyed physically from the outset and everything unravelled on the back of that factor.

Stephen Kearney’s late line-up reshuffle was an absolute pigsty, ignoring the lessons of early-2019 and paying a harsh price.

In a diabolical start, the call to start Jazz Tevaga at hooker backfired immediately with his poor pass coughed up by Adam Blair. The Warriors rebuffed the Raiders’ initial try-line forays but looked on the verge of cracking throughout the opening exchanges.

Iosia Soliola palmed off Kodi Nikorima (who hobbled off with a recurrence of an ankle injury a short time later) then arced around Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for the opening try in the 10th minute. Jarrod Croker converted for 6-0.

Mistakes, missed tackles and a total inability to get any semblance of physical parity with or without the ball practically begged the visitors to pile on more points.

Canberra’s other prop, Josh Papalii, doubled the lead in the 19th minute as Tevaga came up with a horrible defensive miss near the Warriors’ line.

Showing fatigue usually reserved for teams deep into golden point, the Warriors were perpetually on their heels on defence and battling to get to the end of sets when they did have the footy.

Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer deft grubber served up an easy try for centre Michael Oldfield as the Warriors’ lack of urgency and concentration was again glaringly exposed.

With a blowout already inevitable, bad calls become less important.

But the irony of a shockingly obvious Josh Hodgson forward pass after the hooker had made a bust would not be lost on anyone paying the vaguest bit of attention to the NRL over the past week.

Croker took the offload from Hodgson and rookie winger Bailey Simonsson finished off the movement for the Raiders’ fourth try.

Canberra completed the first-half humiliation with an offload-a-thon in the 39th minute, Joe Tapine finishing off a 40-metre movement.

Thirty-fucking-nil at halftime.

Vision of Stephen Kearney stripping the paint off the dressing-room walls with an all-time halftime spray was easily the most heartening part of the night for Warriors fans to that point.

The Raiders came out for the second stanza comparatively flat and the Warriors started to resemble at least a low-level first-grade side again.

Some slick ball-playing from Chanel Harris-Tavita and a miraculous offload near the try-line from Blake Ayshford saw CHT dive over for his maiden NRL four-pointer in the 53rd minute.

But the rot didn’t take long to set back in for the Warriors. Simonsson showed up six defenders to scramble over for his second try and put the Raiders back in command.

Piling on more pressure on the back of a string of penalties, Canberra cracked the 40-point mark as Josh Hodgson found his way over from dummy-half with inexplicable ease.

Harris-Tavita bagged his second inside the final 10 minutes, backing up a superb around-the-corner offload from halves partner Blake Green – a rare positive in a dreadful display from the veteran.

But the match finished in fitting fashion, Jack Wighton dancing past a ring of would-be Warriors defenders to score in the dying seconds.

Soliola slotted a left-footed conversion from close range in the final ignominy.

Unrealistically hopeful mathematics aside, the Warriors’ bid for an unlikely Top 8 spot is over. Surrendering so meekly to a quality outfit in front of their (quite frankly heroic) home fans would suggest they will struggle to get another win in 2019 with matches against Manly, Sydney Roosters, Cronulla, South Sydney and Canberra again to come.

Serious questions need to be asked of the coaching staff, the make-up of their roster and even the direction the club’s administration is taking the club in if this is the dirge that is being served up at what was once one of the premiership’s most celebrated fortresses.

 

NRL ROUND 20

Canberra Raiders (Bailey Simonsson 2, Iosia Soliola, Josh Papalii, Michael Oldfield, Joseph Tapine,, Josh Hodgson, Jack Wighton tries; Jarrod Croker 6, Soliola goals) defeated Warriors (Chanel Harris-Tavita 2 tries; Harris-Tavita 2 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium

 

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