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Class of Storm the difference: Kearney

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/04/2017

Stephen Kearney. © Richard Sellers / PA Images Stephen Kearney. Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has tipped his hat to the class of the Storm following their tense Anzac Day defeat in Melbourne.

Kearney said the Warriors could take plenty of positives out of the 20-14 loss to the competition leaders but couldn't apply the finishing touches when it was needed in the decisive closing stages.

Instead, it was the wise heads in the Storm, such Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, who held sway in creating tries in the last 15 minutes to Josh Addo-Carr and Felise Kaufusi.

"Both teams were pretty fatigued but they've got some pretty smart players who know how to manage the back end of a game pretty well," Kearney said.

"There's some [positives] to take out of it but we've got plenty of improvement in us too."

It is the Warriors' second straight loss away to genuine title contenders, following their 20-14 defeat at Canberra.

A 3-5 record leaves them still just two points outside the top eight heading into Sunday's home clash against the second-placed Sydney Roosters.

Skipper Smith rated Melbourne's performance as their finest yet in a 7-1 start to the season. It was needed to quell a fighting Warriors performance.

"Most definitely our best game all year," Kangaroos hooker Smith said.

"The attack and the defence didn't fall away at all so that was a really pleasing aspect about tonight."

Kearney lamented his team's lack of discipline, most notably when they let Melbourne come out of defence through silly penalties.

However, the performance was an improvement on efforts earlier this season, including the 26-10 loss to the Storm in Auckland in round two.

They created quality tries early in each half to centre David Fusitu'a and gained decent go-forward up front, boosted by the return from injury of prop Ben Matulino.

Fellow front-rower Jacob Lillyman was heartened by Matulino's form which helped the Warriors match the muscle of the lauded Storm pack.

"We created a few chances and were in it right until the death but couldn't quite get there," Lillyman said.

"Those Storm players in key positions probably just got the better of us on the night but it was a quality game of footy and we can hold our heads high.

Lillyman is facing a fine after being charged by the NRL match review committee for a grade one careless high tackle.

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