Rugby league: Warriors coach Nathan Brown blasts team after NRL finals failure

New Zealand Warriors coach Nathan Brown has blasted his side’s on-field tactics after a loss to the Canberra Raiders on Friday ended the club’s slim finals hopes.

Warriors fans were dusting off the calculators in the first half, trying to work out how their team could sneak into the top eight.

But even Einstein wouldn’t have been able to produce an equation that gets them into the finals after they blew another big lead to lose a match they really should have won.

The sliding doors moment came before halftime when Chad Townsend’s grubber cannoned into the upright and fell into the arms of Sean O’Sullivan who couldn’t control the ball as he went to the line.

The Raiders scored moments later, and the Warriors never threatened again. It ends a frustrating year that has again been ruined by Covid and injuries, but they’ll be kicking themselves for their inability to close out tight games.

“It’s disappointing. It probably summed our season up,” a disappointed Brown said.

“The way we managed the second half was horrible from our point of view, whether it be our discipline on kick-chase tackles, whether it be our kick selection, whether it be passing the ball.

“There’s a million things that we could’ve done a little bit better to give ourselves a better chance.”

To make matters worse, Chad Townsend (AC joint) is done for the season, while Matt Lodge is facing another suspension after he was placed on report for a hip drop tackle on Joseph Tapine.

Meanwhile, Canberra’s top eight hopes are still alive after Jordan Rapana missed a penalty goal and then redeemed himself with a try at the death to seal the thrilling 28-16 comeback win.

Rapana was at the centre of one of the wildest finishes of the year when the sides met back in Round 3, denied by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck with what would have been the match-winning try in the left corner of GIO Stadium.

But he had his revenge in Mackay, finishing off a brave shift to the left that broke a 16-all deadlock with two minutes remaining.

“He tells me every week what he can do, and he’s actually doing it so I can’t criticise him,” a relieved coach Ricky Stuart said.

Hudson Young added another try as the full-time siren sounded as the Raiders put a controversial week behind them to move ahead of the Sharks into eighth spot.

“I’m feeling a lot better than what I was at half-time,” Stuart said.

The Green Machine had earlier conceded a try in the opening minute and then gave up two tries in the space of five minutes as the Warriors punished some poor kick-defence.

But the introduction of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad turned the game on its head. The fullback crossed just before halftime and then set up Seb Kris for the first of his two four-pointers right after the break.

The game looked to be headed for golden point when Rapana missed a penalty goal from 40 metres out, Corey Horsburgh produced two quick errors and then Reece Walsh missed a field goal in the final eight minutes.

But the Raiders chanced their arm late with a shift to the left, which Rapana finished off in style to cap an outstanding night that saw him finish with a game-high 225 metres.

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