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Stephen Kearney hits out at team after loss to Shaun Johnson's Sharks

Michael Burgess, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sunday, 25 August 2019, 1:30PM
Sharks playmaker Shaun Johnson helps KO his old club. Photo / Photosport
Sharks playmaker Shaun Johnson helps KO his old club. Photo / Photosport

Warriors NRL coach Stephen Kearney has questioned his team's mental resilience in the wake of the 42-16 loss to the Sharks in Cronulla yesterday, their third heavy defeat in four weeks.

Kearney also labelled some of their defence "soft", as he struggled to dissect the ugly display.

The visitors were on the back foot from the beginning, and struggled to put together many consistent passages of play.

The Sharks seemed to be in third gear at times, and when they scored their fifth try in the 48th minute, the game was over as a contest.

It continued a negative pattern for the Warriors; the result against the Raiders three weeks ago was sealed five minutes before halftime, while the Roosters had iced their victory well before the final quarter last Sunday.

"It was really frustrating," said Kearney. "There is a real lack of belief, lack of resilience in the group. Before the Canberra game, there was a period of a couple of months there where we worked hard and had some resilience.

"It was really disappointing [yesterday], some really ordinary tries [conceded] and we just made it too hard for ourselves."

Many of Cronulla's seven tries came through defence that was far from first grade standard, as they exploited a passive defensive line, with the Warriors falling off too many first-up tackles.

"We need to get back to what we know works for us," said Kearney. "When it got a bit too challenging, it was just too soft, some of the points the Sharks scored."

It's a perfect storm for the Warriors. Confidence is down, structure is missing on attack and defence, and the desire on display against the Sea Eagles two weeks ago has disappeared.

They don't have much to play for but pride, but the Bulldogs have provided the template for end-of-season endeavour, with their stunning form in recent weeks, winning four in a row.

On this evidence odds would be long on the Warriors replicating that, with games against the Rabbitohs (fourth) and Raiders (third) to come.

"There is a bit of soul-searching in the shed," said Kearney, who added that it came down to a couple of simple questions.

"How do we want to finish off the year?" he asked. "Three of the last four weeks haven't been good enough, so what are we going to do about it?"

Warriors discard Shaun Johnson enjoyed an afternoon to remember against his former club, with a strong display, particularly when the game was in the balance in the first half. He created two tries, and had another two line break assists, as well as a perfect seven from seven with the boot.


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