‘That’s no excuse’: Why the loss had nothing to do with RTS
WHEN Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was forced from the field with a knee injury approaching the half-hour mark the writing was on the wall.
They were only down by two at the time but momentum was already shifting after back-to-back tries to Penrith, and Tuivasa-Sheck, well he's a game-breaker.
This is a player who has now been so heavily backed he's clear favourite to claim this year's Dally M Medal, leading the likes of Damien Cook and Valentine Holmes.
And while Stephen Kearney's men failed to score a single point after their gun No.1 suffered a suspected medial ligament injury, it wasn't his quality in attack they missed the most.
"He's a leader, he's our captain for a reason," Shaun Johnson told foxsports.com.au.
"So obviously you see what he does with ball in hand but it's what he does without the ball as well … Just being that voice around the group."
Blake Green echoed his halfback when he was asked later.
"It was a tough one mate, he's a big leader in our team by his actions," he said.
"It wasn't ideal obviously, he was a huge loss for us."
Both halves refused to pin the result on their bad luck at the back though.
"Nah it's not an excuse we've dealt with injuries to key positions throughout the year and we've been just fine," Johnson continued.
"But obviously we would've liked for it to be a bit different there but it is what it is and we just had to roll with it.
"Peta Hiku I thought did a terrific job. He went back and did the job we needed him to do so again that's definitely no excuse."
The feeling in the away dressing sheds after the game was that the Panthers simply brought more intensity to the contest.
"(Tuivasa-Sheck) wasn't the reason we lost the game but yeah it was a tough loss," added Green.
"I think physicality wise they were just better than us tonight. They were really physical, good line speed and aggressive … they just outmuscled us.
"They did a great job of shutting us down tonight, we couldn't get any fast play the balls, couldn't generate any momentum. They were too good."