Warriors put finals fate in their own hands
After demolishing the Gold Coast Titans 42-0 in a must-win game at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday, the Warriors were simply relieved to have their finals fate back in their own hands.
The victory means the New Zealanders are back in ninth position on 28 competition points, equal with the Cowboys and Broncos, and trailing the latter by just seven points on differential heading into the final round.
After suffering defeats in four of their past six games the Warriors had looked destined to rely on other results going their way if they were to make the eight.
But the latest victory has put them right back in the driver's seat ahead of next week's make-or-break clash with the Panthers on the road.
"It is pleasing to have that be the case and not be worrying about other teams," said captain Simon Mannering.
"We can put all our focus on Penrith and I guess our play-offs start early with them.
"If we get the two points there then we are in the eight and our fate is in our own hands.
"[Points differential] wasn't mentioned at half-time and it wasn't mentioned out there, we just first and foremost wanted to defend our line and keep that zero.
"We knew they [the Titans] were going to come back strong in the second half and I thought it was a good grind going into next week."
Coach Andrew McFadden was satisfied with the way his squad backed up from last week's season-high 46-12 loss to the Roosters, believing the second half battle which saw his side held scoreless for the final 31 minutes would serve the team well.
"I think it was terrific the way we have bounced back, we have obviously had a huge amount of disappointment last week but the boys really knuckled down," McFadden said.
"We had a tough week and it was a great response tonight.
"I guess we probably saw a bit of a blueprint for what we will see next week.
"The Titans really throw the ball around and offload.
"They certainly challenged us at times but we scrambled well and obviously managed to hold them to nil.
"I am really happy with the way we really committed to each other in defence and we will get a lot of confidence out of that.
"We needed that game and we will do whatever we can to get the result next week."
In addition to singling out his forward pack, who he publicly challenged during the week, McFadden praised the performance of centre Dominique Peyroux who was called up in the place of the injured David Fusitu'a.
Playing just his third NRL game of the year, Peyroux scored a try and perhaps more importantly appeared to sure-up the left-edge defence which was badly exposed by the Roosters last week.
"He [Peyroux] was terrific, I know that on our left-side defence his talk and enthusiasm was great and he certainly added something for us and gave us a spark out there," McFadden said.
Meanwhile the Warriors' backline shortage may take another turn for the worse this week, with doubt emerging as to the availability of wingers Ngani Laumape and Manu Vatuvei ahead of Sunday's trip to Sportingbet Stadium.
Vatuvei left the game late with a leg injury, while Laumape was placed on report in the 56th minute following a scuffle with Greg Bird.
"We took Manu off at the end, just precautionary, he started to tighten up a little bit, but I am hoping we are all fit," McFadden said, before adding that Laumape should have little to worry about in regards to his caution.
"It was a bit inconclusive the footage of the initial contact so I think Ngani has nothing to worry about.
"I think the referees handled it pretty well."