David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Warriors 'still building' ahead of Titans clash

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson says his side is still building ahead of Saturday's NRL clash against the Gold Coast. Photo / Getty Images.
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson says his side is still building ahead of Saturday's NRL clash against the Gold Coast. Photo / Getty Images.

The Warriors are buoyed by their gritty effort in their golden point defeat to Cronulla but halfback Shaun Johnson says they need to reproduce that energy in Saturday's home clash against the Gold Coast.

The Warriors were left hurting after Saturday's 19-18 extra time loss to the competition leading Sharks, and need to quickly refocus before meeting the Titans at Mt Smart Stadium in a clash that could impact heavily on their finals hopes.

The heartbreaking result ended the Warriors three-game winning run to see them drop one place to occupy 11th position on the NRL ladder on 16 points, to sit one spot behind the Titans on for and against.

Johnson said his side had room for further improvement and a win over the Titans ahead of next week's second bye round would give their top eight prospects a timely four-point boost.

"It's hard to take the loss and there's definitely some learning in it for us but we're still building as a team I feel," Johnson told the Warriors club website post-match.

"They're the benchmark in the comp at the moment and we had a crack and played some good footy and obviously kept with them.

"The Titans play a different way but we've got to take that energy back to Mt Smart.

"We've had some good crowds there so we're really excited to get home and play in front of them leading into the bye."

Despite the loss, coach Andrew McFadden was proud of his team's effort in clawing their way back after Sharks forward Jayson Bukuya's controversial penalty try left them trailing 18-10 early in the second-half.

McFadden felt the Warriors had shown a level of commitment and resolve that was absent in early season defeats to Melbourne, Penrith and Canberra, and maintaining that form would hold them in good stead.

"In the past that might have been enough for us but we really dug in and found a way to get back level-pegging," McFadden told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch.

"We've played better, particularly with our execution, but in terms of gritty and hanging in there it was a really good performance from us.

"My overriding feeling was pride in what they delivered out on the field and if we had that effort every week we'll win more games then we'll lose."

For the third week running, Johnson will have to manage a quad strain suffered in the round 14 win over Newcastle, while the Warriors will hope veteran wing Manu Vatuvei will be available after missing the last two matches with a hamstring injury.

The Titans outside backs stocks are thin after centre Nathan Davis suffered a season-ending dislocated and broken leg in Sunday's defeat to Canberra. Photo / Getty Images.
The Titans outside backs stocks are thin after centre Nathan Davis suffered a season-ending dislocated and broken leg in Sunday's defeat to Canberra. Photo / Getty Images.

The Titans will head to Auckland with limited options in the outside backs, after centre Nathan Davis dislocated and broke his right leg making a tackle on Raiders captain Jarrod Croker in Sunday's 30-22 defeat to Canberra at Cbus Super Stadium.

Co-captain and fullback William Zillman will need to overcome a foot injury, while David Mead (knee), John Olive and former Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell (calf) are not due to return until the round 19 game against St George Illawarra.

Even if he was fit, Hurrell would not have played this week, with a condition of his release from the Warriors last month making him unavailable for selection. However, the 24-year-old Tongan international will be able to play in the round 22 return fixture between the two sides at Robina.

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