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Stat Attack: The Warriors' unwanted defensive U-turn

The tackle pads will take a pounding in Auckland this week, as the New Zealand Warriors look to arrest a concerning drop in defensive efficiency between rounds one and two of the NRL Telstra Premiership season.

In the week one 40-6 victory over Canterbury-Bankstown the Warriors missed just 13 tackles, a metric better than any side managed through last year's finals series and the best registered in the 16 games played so far in 2019.

But it was a different story eight days later, as Stephen Kearney's men fell off 38 tackles and leaked four line breaks – compared to one against the Dogs – and crashed to a 34-6 defeat at the hands of the Wests Tigers.

After finishing round one possessing the competition's equal-second best defensive record, the Warriors now sit 10th in the category ahead of facing Manly in Christchurch on Saturday.

Veteran Warrior Adam Blair blamed a poor attitude for the feeble showing at Campbelltown Stadium.

"First and foremost, defence is an attitude. If you want to turn up and whack someone then you'll turn up and whack someone, and I just didn't think we were at our best with our attitudes," Blair told NRL.com.

"Maybe our mindset wasn't there defensively. On the weekend before there was a lot going on [following the Christchurch terror attack] and the boys wanted to do something special, but it shouldn't have to take those kinds of times for us to be like that."

Interchange forward Isaiah Papali'i had a different take, pointing to the Warriors' performance on the ball as the main reason they struggled defensively.

Warriors preparing for an emotional week

The Warriors completed just 67 per cent of their sets against the Tigers, compared to 80 per cent in week one, and were asked to make an extra 60 tackles as a result.

"Not completing sets and not being able to build pressure was what let us down [defensively]," Papali'i told NRL.com.

"We didn't complete our sets, which made us tackle more, they were small margins up until the 30th minute when the Tigers started scoring their points, and by then we had put ourselves on the back foot with about 100 more tackles than them."

In round three The Warriors face a Sea Eagles side who don't have a win to their name in 2019, but have missed the fewest tackles in the competition (averaging 19 per game).