Brown takes aim at ‘easy option’ players after Warriors suffer heaviest ever defeat

New Zealand Warriors have suffered the worst defeat in their history, conceding 70 points for the first time as the Melbourne Storm tore them to shreds in the second half.

The 70-10 final score might have been more, with Melbourne cycling through four goalkickers en route to their mammoth win.

Xavier Coates scored four tries, but just as impressive was Ryan Papenhuyzen, who scored two and laid on three to claim the ANZAC Medal for player of the match.

The stats were barely credible. The Storm topped 2000 running metres and forced the Warriors into making double the number of tackles that they put in. The 70 points they scored is their highest ever at AAMI Park and this equalled their biggest ever win.

Their opponents put in as dismal a showing as any seen this season, with the Warriors completing just two sets after the break and conceding five tries in 15 minutes to chuck away what had to that point been a relatively close contest.

“Some people looked for the easiest way out, and that’s sad,” said coach Nathan Brown. “It’s not a reflection of all the players, because some worked extremely hard and put it on the line, but when you’re against a team that good and you don’t have the ball, the best players can look not good.

“It’s disappointing. Take the score away: it’s ANZAC Day, and we’re supposed to be proud. It’s not going to go down as a great day for us.

“If it’s us at our best, hanging in there and playing tough, the scoreboard wouldn’t have got anywhere near where it did.

“If we don’t have the ball in the second half and the Storm have that much, we’d never win the game but the way that we fell apart is the disappointing thing. We can’t hide from that, I can’t sit here and bullshit you. It’s tough.”

A horror night for several Warriors was compounded by injuries. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak went off after a sickening concussion, Josh Curran departed with a medial ligament issue and coach Nathan Brown might well have hooked Edward Kosi had he had anyone else to bring on.

Kosi endured three handling errors and several terrible defensive reads that lead to Coates’ banner night. His was the standout poor performance, but the whole Warriors team contributed extensively to their own downfall.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy didn’t want to put the boot into the battered Warriors.

“The Warriors had a lot go wrong with injuries in that second half,” he said. “That put a sombre mood on them. Just looking at the stats, they only had 7 sets and completed two. I don’t think I’ve seen that in a game of rugby league before.

“Having said that, I can’t really fault much of what we did. It was a dominant performance and we’re happy with the outcome and the performance of our players.”

The Warriors had actually looked dangerous early on, but copped a harsh lesson in playing the Melbourne Storm. You have to be perfect.

Kosi had the line begging but dropped the ball. Papenhuyzen picked it up, dumped on to Jahrome Hughes and he travelled the 95m to the line.

The Kiwis weren’t deterred. Chanel Harris-Tevita spotted the short side play was on and executed to perfection to allow Watene-Zelezniak to dive in at the corner.

Kosi’s horror night continued. He spilled a simple kick from Hughes and popped the ball up for the easiest of Coates tries. The hari-kari tendency was spreading, with Shaun Johnson throwing an interception straight to Nick Meaney, who jogged under the sticks.

Johnson would redeem himself, with a little bit of luck. His kick in behind the Storm defence took a wicked bounce and fell kindly for Wayde Egan to strike back.

The Warriors were again their own worst enemy. Aaron Pene allowed the Storm out with a high shot penalty – getting himself put on report in the process – and then with the siren about to blow, Reece Walsh conceded another. Papenhuyzen kicked it from the sideline to push the lead out to 16-10.

The second half started as the first had ended, with Papenhuyzen kicking another penalty goal, before the rugby league gods intervened again in the Storm’s favour.

It will say Papenhuyzen try in the record books, but that is only a fraction of the story. Hulking forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona sent up a bomb that any halfback would be proud of, dropping within a yard of the goalline for the fullback to catch AFL-style above his head and score.

There was time for more. Hughes stepped through tired defence for his second, before Jesse Bromwich got the eleventh of the night. The Warriors wanted to be anywhere else.

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