The New Zealand Warriors have delivered the hard-nosed response Stephen Kearney was looking for in training after labelling his side as "soft" after they conceded 28 unanswered second-half points to the Titans.
Now all the Warriors coach needs is for his men to produce another of their legendary bounce-backs against St George Illawarra on Saturday.
The Auckland club has conceded 30 points five times in a topsy-turvy run to eighth in the Telstra Premiership, including last week's 36-12 loss to the Titans after they led 12-8 at half-time. Fortunately, each time they've responded to those defensive lapses with a convincing victory the following round, most recently over the West Tigers after having 50 points put on them by the Storm.
"We've done a pretty good job for most of the year, in the sense that the response when we have had performances like that has been pretty good," Kearney said.
"That's got to start with how you review the performance and there was some honesty there. There was a real good focus and a good energy at training, so I'm comfortable with how that's gone.
"But there are a couple more days, we've got a rundown in Wollongong and obviously a tough match on Saturday afternoon."
Kearney has named Issac Luke and Tohu Harris to start against the Dragons. Both were late scratchings from the Titans debacle but look set to make their returns from calf and knee injuries respectively.
"They've both got through OK," Kearney said as the Warriors prepared to decamp from the Gold Coast to Wollongong. "So it's a monitor thing with the captain's run, but the boys seem good to go."
The Warriors edged the Dragons 20-12 in round seven but have never won in Wollongong and are all too well aware that St George Illawarra were last defeated at WIN Stadium by the Eels way back in March 2017.
That said, the fourth-placed Dragons have lost three of their last four games and like the Warriors – who have dropped four of their last five – are desperate to rediscover their mojo before the playoffs.
"What I know about the Dragons is that they're a good footy team," Kearney said.
"I'm not really fussed about where they're at at the moment, because we're in no better position ourselves. If we play our best footy and the Dragons play their best footy, then we've got a real good game on our hands.
"I expect their best game and our disappointment from last week, we didn't take our best game to Cbus Stadium, particularly in the second half and that's what we're wanting to do this week.
"When you're in close quarters with each other (the Warriors have remained in camp in Australia since the Titans loss), it does give an opportunity to bring you tighter and off the back of Sunday's performance, it was probably more important that we stayed together and worked our way through that."
Match: Dragons v Warriors
Round 21 -
Venue: WIN Stadium
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