Warriors' control a work in progress
In many ways Saturday night's 24-16 win over the Titans was a microcosm of what the Warriors have become famously frustrating for delivering.
In the opening 40 minutes there were flashes of brilliance and scintillating second-phase play yet they went into the sheds for their half-time appraisal trailing by two points on the scoreboard.
In the second half it was a much more controlled and circumspect Warriors outfit who starved the Titans of possession, forced repeat sets and built pressure on the Gold Coast defence until they found cracks just wide enough to earn their fifth win in 11 games and their third from their past four outings.
It's the next phase in the club's evolution as they learn more each week what new coach Andrew McFadden is asking of them and McFadden concedes that it remains a work in progress.
"We have got a lot of skill in our team but its making sure we get that right balance between using it and knowing when to hold the ball," said McFadden after the Warriors completed 12 of 16 sets in the first half and then 20 of 25 in the second.
"We certainly did that a lot better in the second half and we had a lot of possession so the fact that we came away with the win was very pleasing.
"That's what we needed to do against the Titans," added McFadden when asked whether they needed to play a more conservative style. "They're a tough, gritty team and they can really frustrate you so you've got to show a lot of control with the ball and just be patient with it and then you'll get points."
Heading into Round 11 the Titans conceded more missed tackles and tackle breaks than any other team in the competition and prop forward Ben Matulino admitted that the Warriors were unable to resist the temptation that comes with broken-field play, despite the warnings of their coach.
"It was pretty hard, 'Cappy' (McFadden) touched on that during the week," Matulino said of adopting a more conservative approach.
"He said there would be a lot of opportunities with half breaks and offloads that needed to be pushed and it was up to us to make the right decision.
"In the first half some bad decisions were made and Cappy pretty much told us that at half-time and I think we fixed that up in the second half."
Captain Simon Mannering said that it wasn't a matter of putting the weapons they boast across the field into storage but being more selective in when and how they use them.
"Andrew never tells us not to take an opportunity or not to throw a pass, it's about making the right decision and I guess before that earning the right to," said Mannering, who will play game No.200 against Newcastle next Sunday, just the second Warriors player to reach the milestone.
"That generally comes from us trying to play that ball quick and get a bit of ruck speed and get a bit of momentum in our game, and that tends to help with passing the footy.
"It's a balance that we've got to try and get right and we probably didn't get it right in the first half and you saw our defence struggle with that."
Star halfback Shaun Johnson left the field with an ankle injury five minutes from full-time and while he wasn't wearing a 'moon boot' or any strapping in the sheds afterwards, McFadden conceded that he could be in doubt for Sunday's clash at Mt Smart Stadium against the Knights.
Thomas Leuluai is close to returning from a groin injury but McFadden said he is still another two or three weeks away from being available for selection.