Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett bemoaned a series of ball-handling errors after his side was stunned by the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday evening.
The Titans – favourites for the wooden spoon – beat the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium for the first time in 11 years as Phillip Sami crossed for a hat-trick in a 26-14 victory.
Sami and Dale Copley scored tries in the first five minutes for the Titans and they never looked back, leaving the Broncos out of the top eight to the frustration of veteran coach Bennett.
When quizzed if his side was out-enthused, Bennett said: “We were out-everything … but we can’t attack unless we hold the football.
“It’s a collective problem … that stuff’s killing us.”
The error-riddled performance ended a weekend of upsets, with the Wests Tigers to take on the bottom-placed Parramatta Eels on Easter Monday to finish Round 4.
Even though they entered Saturday’s match with a 3-0 record, the New Zealand Warriors’ 30-6 win over the Sydney Roosters was perhaps the biggest surprise of them all.
The Warriors have struggled on the road in recent years and took on the pre-season title favourites without star Shaun Johnson due to a groin problem.
Despite that, the Warriors shocked Trent Robinson’s side,winning 30-6 at Allianz Stadium as Mason Lino, standing in for Johnson, scored a try and kicked seven goals from as many attempts.
“Mason’s one of those guys you want at a footy club,” a delighted Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said afterwards.
New Zealand and St George Illawarra are the only two sides who remain undefeated after the Dragons beat the Newcastle Knights 30-12 in Wollongong on Sunday.
The Dragons sit on top of the ladder and had to come from behind to win the Alex McKinnon Cup, with Nene Macdonald bagging a double for the victors.
Newcastle centre Tautau Moga, just 24, suffered his fourth anterior cruciate ligament injury during the match as his wretched luck continued.
Manly is also counting the cost of injuries after forwards Curtis Sironen and Kelepi Tanginoa suffered knee injuries that may end their seasons in Saturday’s 32-16 win over the Canberra Raiders.
Compounding the double blow was the news that star Sea Eagles fullback Tom Trbojevic also picked up an injury. His ankle problem is set to sideline him for a fortnight.
The bad news soured Manly’s win, highlighted by another star turn from Daly Cherry-Evans.
More surprises in Round 4 saw last season’s grand finalists, Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys, both go down.
The Storm were particularly poor in an uncharacteristically sloppy performance at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Edrick Lee scored the only try of the match in a 14-4 win for the Sharks in a match marred by an incredible penalty count of 30.
Both sides showed their frustrations in a melee of sorts after the final whistle.
Penrith coped well without star half Nathan Cleary against the Cowboys as James Maloney inspired it to a 33-14 win in Townsville.
The Cowboys have now lost three matches in a row and to add insult to injury prop Jordan McLean will miss the next three months with a foot problem.
Also in Round 4, two tries in the last six minutes helped the South Sydney Rabbitohs to a 20-16 win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.