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Brown: Started off far too conservative with the ball

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The Warriors scored five tries to four in Sunday's nail-biting loss that leaves their finals hopes two-thirds down the gurgler, but it was an overly conservative start that left coach Nathan Brown wondering what could have been.

Teen star Reece Walsh endured the roughest of afternoons off the tee in a 24-22 defeat to his former side Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, converting only one try from five attempts.

A shattered Walsh was in tears after full-time and comforted by teammates past and present alike, with the defeat leaving the Warriors a chance for the finals on mathematics only.

The Warriors will be left relying on other results to fall their way if they're to make an unlikely surge past the Sharks, Titans and Raiders in the next two weeks.

It's a particularly sour taste for Brown and his gutsy side given the Brisbane loss was their sixth this year by four points or less.

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Rather than lamenting Walsh's poor conversion rate afterwards though, Brown figured he would've had more chances to do so if only the Warriors had chanced their hand early.

"We scored five tries to four. Obviously we didn't kick so well," Brown said.

"I thought we started off far too conservative with the ball. That's for the birds these days as far as I'm concerned.

"Just hitting the ball up and not using the ball, I thought our first 20 was really poor offensively.

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"And then when we started to play some footy I thought we scored some terrific tries and our kick defence wasn't good.

"They got three of their four tries from kicks, which is obviously something they work hard at.

"When you've got big targets like [Xavier Coates and Corey Oates] we needed to be a little bit better."

Former Cronulla half Chad Townsend was a surprise inclusion at the scrumbase for Sean O'Sullivan before kick-off, with the latter in the No.7 jersey for three consecutive wins leading into round 23.

Walsh kept the kicking tee as well despite Townsend's conversion credentials.

In fairness, Sunday's tight loss was the first game Walsh has missed more than one goal in an outing, with several attempts coming from out wide as well.

Being on the wrong end, and yet right in the middle, of such a tense tussle is all part of Walsh's steep learning curve in Brown's eyes.

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"Obviously, we didn’t kick very well," Brown said.

"[Walsh] is a goalkicker and has been kicking for us for the last six or seven weeks.

"That's something he does well and he strikes the ball well. Reece hasn't even scratched the surface of his football yet. He's playing on instinct and natural talent at the moment.

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"He has got plenty to his game that to become an elite NRL fullback he needs to work at and that will come with experience and time.

"The pre-season will be a good time for Reece to work on other parts of his game.”

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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