Rugby League

Warriors 20 Bulldogs 21

Bulldogs' Trent Hodkinson compounds Warriors' woes with late field goal

It was a nightmare end to a horror week, but the Warriors could only stand by and watch as the Bulldogs beat them by one point at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday.

The Warriors, who within a week have lost coach Matthew Elliott and been forced to watch as their multimillionaire owners traded barbs, were playing with a passion not seen this year but were unable to overcome a Bulldogs team  relentless in  attack.

Bulldogs edge out Warriors in thriller

A seventy-eighth minute field goal from Trent Hodkinson seals the winner for the Bulldogs, downing the Warriors 21-20 at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday.

Yes, the Bulldogs were slick, cool-headed and clinical  but the Warriors had at least a couple of chances to close out the game and did not. They  scored more tries than the Bulldogs but were let down by the boot of Shaun Johnson.

In a heart-breaking final few minutes for Warriors fans, the team which had showed such vigour throughout  the match was  pipped at the post.

Trent Hodkinson of the Bulldogs celebrates his match-winning drop goal against the Warriors.
Trent Hodkinson of the Bulldogs celebrates his match-winning drop goal against the Warriors. Photo: Getty Images

The game ended in  controversy when a penalty was reversed in the Warriors half and and the Bulldogs' Trent Hodkinson slotted a penalty goal to square the game. Just minutes later he slotted a field goal to put his side in front.

Stand-in Warriors coach Andrew McFadden was not about to dwell on the penalty and said that what happened had happened. It was the loss that hurt him most.

''It's very disappointing, obviously,'' McFadden said. ''I think the players threw everything they could but ultimately I think we let ourselves down with our execution. We only had to make one less mistake and we probably would have got there. So [it was] disappointing, but a step in the right direction.''

McFadden said the loss of Ben Matulino who  was brilliant in the back row  in the first half, with a rib injury,  and Seb Ikahihifo, with a knock to the head, made things tough for the Warriors  as players were forced to play longer spells.

Disconsolate: The Warriors leave the pitch after their painful loss.
Disconsolate: The Warriors leave the pitch after their painful loss. Photo: Getty Images

But ultimately it was mistakes and failed completion of sets which hurt the Warriors. The Bulldogs completed 80 per cent of their sets of six in the second half.

Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said he was impressed with his side for coming back into the game twice. ''From that point of view it was a pretty solid win and the ability to win a game like that  ... was good for the players' confidence,'' he said.

One-shot wonder: Trent Hodkinson  slots his field goal.
One-shot wonder: Trent Hodkinson slots his field goal. Photo: Getty Images

Warriors captain Simon Mannering said he was happy with the improvement in the side  thrashed by the Sharks in the last round.

''It would have been nice to get the result but it's good that we made steps forward in our performance,'' Mannering said. ''The challenge for us is to keep making those steps forward.

''When we stuck to what our plan was we built some pressure and it felt pretty comfortable out there and we managed to score some points. It's when we went outside of that that we let them back in the game.''

The Bulldogs forwards were relentless and  a massive number of tackles by the Warriors' Jacob Lillyman, captain Mannering and Nathan Friend could not  halt them.

Matulino was the standout player of the first half  and McFadden said he would consider playing him in the back row again.