Warriors thrashed by Raiders to equal worst home losing streak in club history

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Saturday, 3 August 2019, 9:27AM
Dejected Warriors players after getting thrashed by the Raiders. Photo / Photosport
Dejected Warriors players after getting thrashed by the Raiders. Photo / Photosport

Warriors 12
Raiders 46

Well, at least there is no more doubt about the Warriors' prospects for 2019.

Any talk of finals football – which was always based more on optimism than logic – can be extinguished after this 46-12 hiding at the hands of the Raiders.

It was one of their worst displays of the season, especially given what was at stake.

The match was over five minutes before halftime, when Canberra scored their fourth try.

This was a must win game for the Warriors, but there was only one team in the contest.

That was the most disappointing aspect; the Auckland team had competed well over the last six weeks, but completely fell away on Friday night.

At times in the first half it was embarrassing; Canberra strolled through paper-thin defence, with would be tacklers having the impact of a butterfly in a hurricane.

The result also continues the Warriors' awful home record this year; it's been 119 days since they tasted victory at Mt Smart, and their current losing home sequence (six games) is the equal worst in the club's history.

Few players emerged with credit, though Chanel Harris-Tavita brought energy, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck never stopped trying and Josh Curran showed promise on debut, while Kodi Nikorima left the field in the first half after aggravating his ankle injury.

The Warriors' tough travel schedule in recent weeks, together with the emotional rollercoaster last Saturday at Bankwest Stadium was always going to take its toll at some point, but that's no excuse for the lack of intensity and desire in the first half.

The Warriors were overpowered up the middle and out wide. Josh Hodgson played the game in a dinner suit and continually cut the defence to shreds.

Coach Stephen Kearney's gamble to bench hooker Karl Lawton from the start didn't pay off as the home side lacked fluency in the first 25 minutes when he was off the field, though most of the first half was played in Warriors' territory.

The visitors were hungry, slick and menacing. They look the most impressive Canberra team for a long time, perhaps since the legendary Green Machine of the early 1990s. They are well balanced across the field and have undeniable class in key positions.

Their forwards created space and momentum through their powerful surges, then the back division went to work. The way they lined out deep, and then ran at different angles with pace was a joy to watch.

Jarrod Croker came close twice in the first nine minutes, both times denied (correctly) by the video referee. That brought ironic cheers from the hardy crowd of 10,395, some of whom took Warriors CEO Cameron George's quip seriously about bringing their own whistle.

But Canberra's dominance was obvious early, and Hodgson made space for Iosia Soliola, with the evergreen former Kiwi showing pace to sprint 30 metres to score after 10 minutes.

Worse was to come, as 118 kilo forward Josh Papalii ran over the top of Jazz Tevaga and Isaiah Papali'i in the 19th minute for their second try.

The third Raiders try seemed to kill off the contest. The sequence started with a strip off Tevaga, before Michael Oldfield raced onto a perfectly timed grubber.

Bailey Simonsen's try, after Hodgson again created havoc, was far too easy while the fifth Raiders touchdown on the stroke of halftime was downright embarrassing.

Harris-Tavita's two tries, created by clever passes by Blake Ayshford and Blake Green, salvaged some pride, but Simonsson's second continued a pattern of soft Canberra tries, as the game meandered to the finish.