Warriors coach Stephen Kearney could only ponder what might have been after his undermanned squad had gone within an ace of becoming just the second team to beat the Storm in 2019.

Going into the traditional Anzac Day clash without key men Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (hamstring) and Blake Green (groin), the Warriors led for long periods and defended bravely in the 13-12 loss.

Tries to Adam Blair and Ken Maumalo looked to have been enough to give the Warriors a win but a late penalty goal to Cameron Munster and a field goal to Brodie Croft on the very next set meant it would be a long and painful trip home for Kearney's battered side.

"The effort from our group was really good given we had a bit of a disruptive week and a five-day turnaround," Kearney said.

"The guys coped really well and put in a great effort.

"Unfortunately, the game doesn’t always reward effort."

Debutant Patrick Herbert and veteran rake Isaac Luke were both sporting head cuts after the physical encounter and the commitment by all 17 of his men gave Kearney cause for optimism ahead of the round eight clash with the Knights.

The coach was forced to defend the club over the withdrawal of Tuivasa-Sheck, who succumbed to a hamstring injury after originally being named in the squad.

Kearney said it wasn't until after the captain's run on Wednesday that his skipper was ruled out, dismissing claims earlier in the week on social media that the injury was picked up during Monday's training session.

"We trained on Monday and he completed training, he had a bit of tightness, but nothing too serious," Kearney said.

"That’s the platform of social media... I don’t know how it got out.

"He was adamant that he was OK and then from the captain’s run he didn’t pull up so well. So we didn’t want to take the risk and there was no shenanigans on our behalf. If you ask Roger he was adamant he was going to play."