Dale Budge looks back in the Warriors win over the Titans and what the performance says about where the side are heading.
The Warriors will score points if the spine is supported
It was only a glimpse, but the Warriors attack immediately looked more dangerous with Kieran Foran joining big name stars Shaun Johnson, Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the spine. It was the first time any number one spine has played together at the club since mid-2015 and the first time these four Kiwi players have played together in a Warriors jumper. The foursome combined for a stunning first-half try that saw David Fusitua score in the corner to whet the appetite of Warriors fans. Foran immediately took over a lot of the organising role that has burdened Johnson over the past few seasons, and it allowed the halfback to roam and play off the cuff more. He will benefit more from this over the coming weeks. If the forwards can lay a decent platform and the players around them hold on to enough ball, the Warriors should score plenty of points with that spine intact.
Defence is still a major issue
Foran had an impact with the ball, but his return wasn't able to inspire his team-mates to improve their, at times, embarrassing defence. It had been a major issue over the past fortnight, as the Bulldogs and Dragons exposed some flimsy defensive work, and it came to prominence against the Titans in the first half yesterday. The scary thing is that there wasn't just one area that the Titans picked on - they managed to expose both edges and the middle on a number of occasions at Mt Smart Stadium. The middle is slow to react - Sam Lisone looked like a statue at times, as faster feet simply ran around him - while Solomone Kata and Blake Ayshford were caught out badly at times on each edge. The showing was better in the second half, but to be fair, they were hardly tested, as the makeshift Titans, dealing with numerous injuries and reshuffles, barely got the ball over the halfway line. There is a concern a high-octane offence, like the Cowboys, Panthers or Raiders, could really take advantage of this and rack up a score in the coming weeks.
James Gavet might be the Warriors' most important forward
The strapping Gavet has been used sparingly in his time in Auckland. He struggled for consistency in previous stints with the Bulldogs, Tigers and Broncos, but has demonstrated an ability to bend the line and get a quick play-the-ball in his two games this season. The Warriors looked a different side, when he was on the paddock yesterday - his quick play-the-balls allowed others like Jacob Lillyman and the back rowers to take advantage and the side was able to get the better of the Titans pack for those periods. He might be inconsistent, but that is going to be the challenge for coach Stephen Kearney - to get the best out of him each week. The Warriors simply haven't got anyone else that can create that forward momentum that the spine so desperately needs.