The Warriors’ NRL top-eight hopes are officially on life support after falling 24-10 to Penrith on Saturday night.
Not only did the Panthers snap their losing streak at five, but they were also able to farewell retired prop Nigel Plum in style.
In his 150th NRL game, one of the league’s most feared hitman broke down in tears after the match when he informed his teammates of his immediate retirement due to repeated concussions.
For the Warriors, the loss extends their winless run to five and while they remain just two points behind eighth-placed Canterbury, who meet Gold Coast on Sunday, their season now hangs on by a thread.
Two long-range efforts either side of halftime set up the Panthers win, including a David Simmons special in the 49th minute.
A Bryce Cartwright offload deep in his own territory sent Tyrone Peachey into the backfield, before the veteran winger expertly finished off a James Segeyaro grubber one play later.
Just before the break it was Will Smith who turned defence into attack with a 50-metre run and Peachey cut through not long after to score.
The home side had shot out to an early 14-0 lead courtesy of tries to Lewis Brown and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, but the visitors countered with back-to-back four-pointers of their own, including Sam Tomkins’ first touchdown of the year.
However, without star halfback Shaun Johnson, the Warriors failed to crack Penrith’s staunch defensive line in the second half and now face a mammoth task to sneak into the top eight.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said the tries either side of the break were the turning point of the match.
“After how we started it would’ve been probably OK to go in at 14-10 at half-time but the two tries either side of the break just shows where we are at,” he said.
“We just have some blokes there who are tired.”
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said his side’s performance was just reward after a rough past month.
“The last three games we’ve had every opportunity to win the game but couldn’t get it done,” he said.
“We probably could’ve won that one by a bit more, but it’s reward for the way we’ve hung in there and worked hard the last month or so.”
Campbell-Gillard was put on report for a high shot on Tuimoala Lolohea midway through the first half.