13507 Warriors fans turned up to Mt Smart Stadium today to see their team's season read its last rites. And, with an attack that was breathtakingly appalling in all its entirety, it was no surprise too see them and their last hopes of making the top eight go down to St George, 29-4.
Despite having an equality of possession, they did not have the attacking nous to frighten the St George defence. Time and again, they would attempt to circumnavigate the opposition defence, instead of trying to punch holes up the middle of the ruck.
Not only that, from the opening exchanges it was painfully obvious that the Warriors were having more than their share of trouble getting St George players to the ground in the tackle. St George, though, were able to off-load at will during the first quarter of the match.
Despite this,the scores were level at four-all after six minutes.
It only took five tenths of five minutes for St George to get on the scoreboard after Brett Morris regathered the loose ball from a Jamie Soward bomb, too dive over in the left corner.
The Warriors replied only three minutes later, when from a play the ball, the ball reached Simon Mannering who ran diagonally to his left side attack, before offloading to Joel Moon to cut back inside and level the scores. This was the end as far the Warriors scoring input went. They never looked like cracking St George's defence for the remaining seventy-four minutes.
St George put on two further tries during the remainder of the first half, a second to Morris and the other to centre, Chase Stanley. Both fine attacking efforts, both scored in the left corner as the Warriors struggled the close down St George's ability to offload in the tackle.
18-4 after twenty-five minutes, and it seemed that the Warriors were in for a long hard slog. They got it. Over the final eight minutes of the first half, they threw all they had at their opposition but could not find a way through the St George defence. The only time they could get over St George's goal line, Michael Luck was held up by a superb cover tackle from Darius Boyd.
By the end of the half, the Warriors had increased their offloads immensely
Unlike St George though, they were not effective and put no pressure on the opposing defence.
With half-time upon them and only fourteen points down, there was still hope of a comeback for Warriors fans. Despite a break by Issac John in the forty-third minute, that comeback never came. And never looked like coming, either.
The second half effort of both sides was infested with unforced errors. Other than a scintillating ninety-five metre dash from Jamie Soward, it was a dreary forty minutes of football.
Soward's try came in the 60th minute, after Ian Henderson kicked on the last tackle five metres out from St George's goal line. Soward gathered the ball on the full and propelled himself along the eastern sideline with great gusto to score unchallenged in the right side corner. To cap off his fine effort, he converted his own try to take the score out to 22-4.
A drop Goal to Soward in the 77th minute and a minute later, a first try of the season for Darius Boyd put an end to the scoring proceeding, not too mention the end of their top eight chances.
With six matches to play this season, pride appears to be all that they have left to play for. What started off as a highly promising season in March has turned ugly for coach Ivan Cleary and his players. Their once famed attacking flair has deserted them, it seems. While their defence has been more than adequate this year, a team that averages fourteen points per match in attack, is not going to be near the top eight, let alone near the top of the competition.
By the 80th minute, they had thirty-two time compared to St George's twenty. And yet, they didn't look like scoring. Problems aplenty, for coach Cleary.
And there was the usual lateral movement from them. Rarely did they attempt to go up the middle of the ruck and paid the price for it. While it may have been the game plan, Warriors teams have always been at their best when going up the middle of the ruck, before they go to the peripheral.
Before an improvement comes, it is imperative that they find their attacking brilliance. Perhaps it's in Penrith, where they play next.