David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Warriors' toughest tests still to come

The Warriors have a good record against their traditional foes. Photo / Getty Images
The Warriors have a good record against their traditional foes. Photo / Getty Images

The Warriors' win over the Parramatta Eels has consolidated their position within the NRL top eight, but with eight rounds remaining in the regular season their toughest inspections are still to come.

Saturday night's result has seen them climb one place into sixth position on 22 points, although the Brisbane Broncos could overtake them if they get past the Penrith Panthers in their clash tonight.

Three wins in a row and seven from their past nine outings has framed the Warriors as the dark horse of this year's competition, and with four more home games over the last eight rounds a top-four berth is well within reach.

Two of those home games, against last year's grand finalists the Sea Eagles and Roosters, loom as their toughest assignments. But a favourable draw means the Warriors only have to play those teams once throughout the year, and having the home advantage is a huge bonus as they are yet to taste defeat in four matches played at Mt Smart Stadium.

Saturday night's away game against Brisbane is crucial to their hopes of climbing the ladder and essential to them kicking clear of the five teams currently behind them, all on 20 points - Broncos, Storm, Dragons, Tigers and Eels.

They have a good record against their traditional foes, with the Warriors winning six of their last seven matches against Brisbane at Penrose, and two of their past four encounters at Suncorp Stadium. The Broncos will be desperate to rejoin the winners' circle after dropping their last two games against the Warriors and Cronulla Sharks and wanting to maintain their foothold in the top eight.

The round 20 clash against competition leaders Manly will be a litmus test and will give the best indication yet of how far the Warriors have come under coach Andrew McFadden.

An away trip to Canberra and a home clash against the Sharks in successive weeks should give the Warriors another four competition points, before their home appointment with reigning title holders the Roosters.

A last home match against the struggling Gold Coast Titans should be another positive result but Ivan Cleary's high-flying Panthers are sure to ask plenty of questions in their last round tussle at Sportingbet Stadium.

The Warriors won't be backing down from that contest after toppling the Panthers 30-20 a fortnight ago, and a win at Penrith would be the ideal lead-in to the finals.

Warriors - The Run Home

Round 19 Saturday, July 19
Broncos at Suncorp Stadium
Round 20 Sunday, July 27
Sea Eagles at Mt Smart Stadium
Round 21 Sunday, August 3
Raiders at GIO Stadium
Round 22 Sunday, August 10
Cronulla at Mt Smart Stadium
Round 23 Sunday, August 17
Knights at Hunter Stadium
Round 24 Sunday, August 24
Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium
Round 25 Sunday, August 31
Titans at Mt Smart Stadium
Round 26 Sunday, September 7
Panthers at Sportingbet Stadium

- NZ Herald

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