The New Zealand Warriors have been brutally short of one of the great comebacks, losing 26-22 to a weakened Brisbane Broncos.
Playing at Napier’s McLean Stadium for the first time, the Warriors came up short after being denied the opportunity following a brain-bump from center Adam Pompey.
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In the first NRL match at the ground since the Storm played the Dragons in 2015, the Broncos opened up a 26-10 lead with just nine minutes remaining, much to the chagrin of the home fans.
While the final 10 minutes were extended due to various field invaders, the Warriors turned the game around, scoring twice in three minutes to cut the score to four points with three minutes remaining.
With no room for error, the Warriors moved the ball wide at fifth tackle from 20m out.
Instead of a Hail Mary kick, New Zealand running back Shaun Johnson passed it through the hands.
When it came out for Pompeyo, he flicked a quick pass to winger Marcelo Montoya, who ran down the sideline and hit the ball.
But Broncos winger Deine Mariner immediately appealed to referee Gerard Sutton.
The Bunker looked to find that Pompey had grabbed Mariner’s jersey after he passed the ball, denying the winger a chance to get to Montoya.
When Fox commentators saw the replay, they knew the Warriors’ hearts would break.
“Oh yeah, don’t try it,” Steve Roach said.
“This will not be an attempt,” Warren Smith added. “Can you believe it?”
Roach replied, “I can’t.”
Smith continued: “The crazy part is that Adam Pompey probably didn’t need to do that. I think they were going to score anyway. I don’t know if Mariner was going to be able to come back and stop Montoya.”
He added that it was “an absolute no-brainer”, while Roach said: “It’s a fair decision, I didn’t need to do it.”
Warriors fans were furious over the decision and fans piled on Pompey on social media.
Mancave Sports Australia tweeted: “Congratulations to Adam Pompey on the dumbest play in 2023 and costing his team the game with a brain dead decision.”
Freelancer Curtis Woodward posted: “Pompey doesn’t need a coach rocket. He’s going to get a lot of shit out of his teammates during the week.”
In the postgame press conference, coach Andrew Webster said it was one of many moments that cost the Warriors the game.
“I think that sums us up tonight,” Webster said.
“I’m not throwing everything away at the time, but we had a million of those moments that didn’t belong to us and that just summed us up.”
Webster added that the Warriors moved away from what had become their DNA of making tackles and not allowing soft downs.
Warriors fans were also furious about in-game decisions, including Billy Walters’ “tap and play” pass to Jordan Riki to give the Broncos a 12-6 halftime lead.
The referees cleared the trial but a shooting pass was more than a little controversial.
“Geez, that’s a forward pass,” Steve Roach said, as the Warriors fumed over the call.
But as the NRL does not use forward pass technology, it was confirmed as an attempt.
It’s a bad time for the Warriors after the CEO of the club’s main sponsor, One NZ, went on a rampage over the referees’ unconscious bias.
Originally posted as ‘I didn’t need to do that’: Warriors denied latest attempt to pull on jersey
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