NRL: Coach Andrew Webster doesn't hold back after NZ Warriors opening round NRL loss to Cronulla Sharks

NZ Warriors coach Andrew Webster is pinpointing poor discipline and wayward execution as the reasons for his side's anticlimactic 16-12 loss to the Cronulla Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.   

In what was their most anticipated NRL home opener in decades, the Warriors started with a hiss and a roar - opening a 12-0 lead after just 14 minutes. However, it was all downhill from there - as they allowed in 16 unanswered Sharks points to disappoint the home fans.   

Webster didn't hold back after the lacklustre second half performance.    

"I'd say discipline let us down, for sure. I think our first 20 minutes were outstanding," he said. "Our style of play, what we were doing. I thought our attack was... simple and fast, 

"But then we just gave away yardage, penalties, I think four, two for offside, two for getting the ruck wrong. We invited them back into the game   

"I feel like the period after halftime was... poor. Our defence, our ruck control - it just wasn't good enough."  

Kurt Capewell  is tackled during the round one NRL match between the Warriors and Cronulla Sharks
Kurt Capewell is tackled during the round one NRL match between the Warriors and Cronulla Sharks Photo credit: Getty Images

The second-year head coach gave credit to his side for staying in the fight until the final whistle but admits every time they managed to get something right in the final minutes, they were unable to capitalise.   

"I thought we gathered ourselves and we started really attacking with our defence, making them come off their line, forced a couple of errors," Webster said. "But then... we were clunky, didn't have the right timing. We were fatigued from all that possession that they had after halftime.    

"I felt like we were losing momentum because we weren't communicating, we weren't running the right lines, we didn't know what we were doing at times."   

Warriors captain Tohu Harris agreed with his coach's assessment.    

"We kept hurting ourselves," he said.    

"The things we could control we didn't do well at that's what we've got to look at."   

Despite the incredible hype leading into the match, neither of the pair blamed the weight of the occasion for the poor on-field performance.    

"I didn't feel that", said Harris. "We were excited and it didn't feel like it was a burden."    

"It's... clear we were pretty comfortable in this arena for the first 20 minutes," Webster added. "If anything, we probably got too excited and carried away as opposed to the occasion." 

Wheater that’s the case or not, with sell-out crowds expected for almost every home game, the Warriors will need to get used to high expectations throughout 2024.   

Webster and his men will now shift their focus to round two, where they'll take on perennial premiership contenders Melbourne Storm across the Tasman.