NRL: 'Basic errors' cost Warriors in finals defeat to Panthers

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney admits basic errors cost his side in their 27-12 defeat to the Penrith Panthers on Sydney on Saturday night.

Things started well for the Warriors - they had all the momentum and a 12-2 lead midway through the first half. Then everything went wrong.

The Panthers went onto score 25 unanswered points to set up adate with the Cronulla Sharks on Friday night, battling for a spot in the preliminary final against the Melbourne Storm.

It felt like nothing went the Warriors' way. They lost skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to a knee injury, and couldn't get their hands on the ball inside the Penrith half as they failed to get going after losing momentum.

 NRL: 'Basic errors' cost Warriors in finals defeat to Panthers

At times when you thought the Warriors were getting back into the match, they'd turn the ball over or give away a penalty, which didn't help their cause.

"We started the game well, but there were fundamental errors through the middle part there which just gifted them momentum back into the game," said Kearney after the match.

"We stuck in there, but we couldn't find any momentum. They scored 25 unanswered points, which was too large, scoreboard pressure there and we let ourselves down through that 15-minute period in the middle of the first half.

"It was frustrating. But that's finals footy, there is pressure on every play. We didn't execute well enough and basic errors in terms of playing the ball, keeping the ball in and not kicking it out.

"That's the lesson for this group, that there's a lot more at stake when it's like that."

James Maloney tormented his former club.
James Maloney tormented his former club. Photo credit: AAP

Kearney praised the almost-perfect Panthers, who are through to the second round of the playoffs for the third-straight year.

"I thought the Panthers kicked really well. They made us defend a number of repeat sets, and they kicked into the pockets really well, Jimmy [Maloney] and Nathan [Cleary], they built the pressure on us that way.

"When you're talking about our attack, most of it was trying to get out of the backfield, so it was pretty challenging in that sense.

"Losing a player the quality of Roger, that does have a bit of an impact."

Kearney confirmed Tuivasa-Sheck would have scans on his injured knee when he returns to Auckland. The medical staff believe the fullback picked up a medial ligament injury.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Photo credit: Photosport

Regardless of how their season ended, Kearney wants people to not just focus on this one performance, but to look at what the team achieved this season in general.

Heading into the 2018 campaign, they were favourites to win the wooden spoon, and pundits thought Kearney would be the first coach to be sacked. Instead, the Warriors won 15 games to finish eighth in the standings and qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

"It's important to recognise [our improvement]," Kearney added.

"It's a pretty disappointed dressing room because we didn't put our best performance out there. But we have made some progress this year, there's no doubt about that."

"We're really determined to make sure we improve, and we've got to be better."