NRL 2021: Chambers was smarter than us: Warriors coach Nathan Brown's sigh of relief, after Kane Evans' brain explosions against Sharks

Amid the dressing room celebrations inspired by NZ Warriors' gritty 18-16 comeback win over Cronulla Sharks on Saturday would have been one huge sigh of relief from forward Kane Evans.

The prop twice fell victim to the trademark taunts of Sharks centre Will Chambers, who reeled the young Aussie in hook, line, and sinker, baiting him with a brace of yellow cards.

The first, in particular, proved hugely costly for the Warriors. In the 35th minute, Evans threw two punches at Chambers in a baffling brain explosion, which the Sharks capitalised on with two quick tries to take a 16-6 lead into halftime.

With the contest entering its decisive final 15 minutes, Evans continued his personal vendetta by slamming his adversary's head into the ground during a tackle, resulting in another set of marching orders to put immense pressure on his side, as a cackling Chambers bade him farewell.

While the Warriors ultimately had the last laugh, coach Nathan Brown admits his players need to be above rising to the antics of the wily veteran - who has been in vintage form with his in-game niggle in recent weeks - whose goading almost cost them the game.

Cronulla Sharks' Will Chambers.
Cronulla Sharks' Will Chambers. Photo credit: Getty

"You get the win and we'll get through that more on Monday," Brown says, when asked about Evans' first-half binning.

"Probably the most disappointing thing was we had some senior players, I suppose, just engaging with Will.

"And, as I explained to a couple of them at half-time who had lost their way, Will can engage in it and still play reasonably well.

"Our blokes were engaging in it and not playing well. It had a bad effect on our football team. We pretty much leaked two tries because Will was a bit smarter than us. That was the disappointing thing.

"Sin-binnings do happen, we don't want them to happen, but… Will was a little bit smarter than a couple of our experienced blokes."

Nevertheless, Brown was pleased with his team's resiliency in defending their line a man short, then showing the requisite mettle to defend their slim lead through the final stretch and claim their first back-to-back wins of the season.

"Cronulla, in the second half early on, had a few sets on our line when we only had 12 [men] and I thought we handled it pretty well," he says.

"I thought, as a whole defensively, the boys tidied themselves up in the second half. There were some things where some boys came up with some pretty special efforts, which you need."

At the forefront of the Warriors' effort was the relatively new prop pairing of Matt Lodge and Addin Fonua-Blake, which is beginning to evolve into the powerhouse tandem the recruitment team had envisioned, dominating through the crucial middle third of the field.

"They're both high-quality players," Brown notes. "I thought Addin in particular in the second half was probably the standout player on the field."

Now 12th on the NRL ladder and with the faintest whiff of a final-eight spot, the Warriors will try to make it three-straight against Canterbury Bulldogs next Sunday.

Join us from 4pm next Sunday (NZ time), for live updates of the NRL clash between NZ Warriors and Canterbury Bulldogs