NRL 2020: Frustrated Todd Payten laments NZ Warriors ill-discipline as playoffs charge ends

Coach Todd Payten isn't making excuses, after NZ Warriors' elimination from NRL playoff contention.

A late two-try surge from Cronulla Sharks ended the Warriors' top-eight aspirations, as the Shaun Johnson-lead side completed a 22-14 victory to guarantee themselves postseason football.

Payten was seething after the match, condemning his side's poor discipline that saw them start slowly and then throw away a two-point lead with seven minutes to play.

The Warriors gave away five of the game's first six penalties, as the Sharks ran out to an early 12-0 lead at Kogarah Oval, but ultimately, the softness of the freebies irked the Cowboys-bound Payten.

"We gave away a really silly penalty for hand on the face," Payten says. "We gave a penalty away for the same infringement last weekend, so to do that two weeks in a row is really disappointing.

"We didn't start well again. They didn't have to work hard for anything in that first 15-20 minutes coming out of their own end.

"To our credit, like we have done for many weeks now, we found a way and put ourselves back in the contest, but I thought we probably got what we deserved in the end."

The match was a vast improvement on the Warriors' last visit to the ground, when they were hammered 50-6 by Melbourne Storm in Payten's first game in charge. after Stephen Kearney's sacking.

The club has turned their season around remarkably since that point, winning five of their last eight games, and despite their finals ambitions ending, Payten remains proud of the effort his players have put in.

"I feel like we've become a team over the past eight weeks and it has shown in the way we've played.

"It's not just me, all our staff have done their job. The players lived up to their end of the bargain and we're getting performances that we should be proud of as a club."

Meanwhile, Payten reveals veteran forward Adam Blair played with a heavy heart on Sunday night.

The former Kiwi captain lost his grandmother last week, before putting on one of his best displays of the season, with 77 run metres and 24 tackles in just 33 minutes. Payten was in awe of the character and professionalism of one of his senior players. 

"She was ill, so him having to deal with that, not being able to obviously go home is tough. She's played an instrumental part in his life.

"I thought the way that he handled the last two days around the group - for himself, for his teammates and for his family - is really incredible. He's a good person, a great father and a better teammate."

The Warriors play Canberra in Gosford on Sunday, before ending their season against Manly in two weeks.

Join us for live updates of the Warriors v Raiders from 4pm Saturday.