Depleted Warriors succumb to Penrith

Reece Walsh. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

A horror injury toll proved too much for the depleted Warriors as Penrith ran out 30-16 winners in their NRL clash at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Sunday.

The Warriors crashed to their sixth straight loss in a major dent to their top eight hopes, but no one could doubt their courage after never backing down despite having their bench cleared by half-time.

The Panthers showed no mercy, running in three second-half tries in 13 minutes to keep their hopes of a second straight minor premiership alive.

Depth wasn’t a problem for the Panthers after welcoming back all five of their State of Origin players – Isaah Yeo, Kurt Capewell, Api Koroisau, Brian To’o and Liam Martin.

But it was a concern for Warriors coach Nathan Brown, who must have been tempted to pull the boots back on after losing inspirational skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, their most experienced forward Tohu Harris, hooker Wayde Egan and centre Rocco Berry in quick succession.

At one stage the Warriors lost three key players in just six minutes.

Harris limped off early before Tuivasa-Sheck was left dazed in a 15th minute tackle.

The skipper – shifted to five-eighth in a rejigged backline – collected his head on Matt Burton’s hip in a tackle that went wrong and appeared to be out before he hit the ground.

Harris only lasted 12 minutes in his return from a shoulder complaint, twisting his knee in a Brent Naden tackle and limping off moments later after a failed attempt to stay on the field.

Egan was the next to go in the 17th minute with a shoulder complaint and wasn’t sighted again in the first half.

He bravely resurfaced on the bench in the second stanza on standby, putting his hand up to endure injury and play if needed.

At one stage in the first half Berry (hamstring) was the only man left on the Warriors bench – but he was getting his leg iced after coming off in the 36th minute.

Down 16-10 at halftime, and 30-10 with 12 minutes remaining, the Warriors kept swinging and were rewarded in the 73rd minute when Reece Walsh crossed moments after copping a high shot from Naden, who was placed on report.

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