NRL 2021: 'Vintage' NZ Warriors performance leaves hopes dashed by second-half doldrums

Many have labelled the Warriors' 38-32 loss to Manly last Sunday as "vintage Warriors". 

Up 20-12 at the break and looking on track to wrap up their first consecutive wins of the season, the game slipped away - fast. 

We've seen it time and time again, and almost witnessed the same thing the week before, when coach Nathan Brown's side failed to score in the second half against North Queensland Cowboys.

On that occasion, they barely held on for a tense 24-20 win. 

Yes, Manly had Tom Trbojevic to thank, after arguably one of the greatest individual fullback performances seen in years.

But that won't stop Warriors fans wondering where did it all go wrong?

According to Brown, the answer is his team’s inability to respond in tough moments. 

"When we have some things not quite going our way - or on the weekend, when we didn't score that try - our response to it wasn't great."

Brown is referred to a bombed try early in the second half that would have given them a 24-12 lead, with a conversion to come. 

Immediately after, Manly went on the rampage and ran in five unanswered tries that ultimately cost the Warriors victory.

"Against Canberra, we were going well, then a couple of things went against us and Canberra got some tries in bunches. The number of games when we've got on the back foot, and leaked two or three tries... 

"When we’ve got the ball, we’ve looked good. We've got to work out how to turn games with our defence - once we do, that will make us a more formidable outfit."

NRL 2021: 'Vintage' NZ Warriors performance leaves hopes dashed by second-half doldrums

This was the major issue against both the Cowboys and Sea Eagles - the inability to come up with a play that changes the momentum. Before you know it, time's up. 

Forward Ben Murdoch-Masila echoes Brown's thoughts about their fluctuations - both in games and week to week.  

"We seem to fall into a bit of a pattern," he says. "We go good for one or two weeks, then we get comfortable and fall off, and it takes that loss to get us going again.

"Our defence wasn’t up to scratch in that second half [against Manly]. Watching from the sideline, it's kind of hard to watch.

"We seem to get it right one week, then the next week, we fall off the mark. It’s not good if you want to be a contending team, especially in the NRL."

The resolve the Warriors showed against the Cowboys was encouraging, as was their ability to finish both that game and a tough win over the Dragons in round six. 

They're also doing the basics right, leading the competition for sets completed (83 percent) and least errors (83). 

Will the tense, frustrating, poor second halves continue? Only time will tell. 

But if they don't get them right, the Warriors fans are in for a long season of watching leads diminish and brilliant attacking efforts wasted.

Join us at 4pm Sunday for live updates of the Warriors v Parramatta Eels NRL clash