Coach Stephen Kearney says the Warriors need to improve if they are to match it with the top sides come the business end of the NRL season.

Ahead of tonight's NRL clash against Penrith in Sydney, Kearney hopes his players have absorbed some tough lessons in the wake of last week's heart-breaking loss to Cronulla and can find another level to propel them towards their first finals appearance in seven years.

With nine rounds remaining in the regular season, the current top eight sides appear close to being guaranteed of advancing through to the play-offs, with a six-point gap currently separating the eighth-placed Broncos and ninth-ranked Raiders on the premiership ladder.

The Warriors seem to be in safe territory in fifth spot with the three sides beneath them – Brisbane, Cronulla, and the Sydney Roosters (20 points) - still mathematically vulnerable to a late charge from Canberra, Wests Tigers or the Gold Coast (14 points).


But Kearney says his players can't afford to take anything for granted and must understand things will only get tougher and that more is required if they are to remain on course to feature in the big games in September.

"That game last week, the reality is that's what it's going to be like if we are to make something of our season, and plus some," said Kearney.

"I don't think we've played our best footy this year. We've got to find a way to be better and we've got real capability to do that.

"Every week is a challenge and as small as the margin is we weren't quite good enough last week. As I said after the game it was a really good lesson for us as a team and it's important that we take the lesson and move forward.

"I'm not worried about a clear break (on the ladder), our focus is on the challenge against Penrith and what we have to do to give ourselves an opportunity."

Veteran forward Simon Mannering insists the Warriors are not getting ahead of themselves and while satisfied with their efforts over the last month, believes there are aspects of their play that need urgent attention.

Lapses in concentration and poor execution cost them at critical stages against the Sharks and the Warriors need to show a more ruthless streak against the understrength Panthers.
"I don't think any of the guys are looking at the table," said Mannering.

"Over the last month we've been really consistent, we've done some really good stuff, but there's some stuff there that's been a bit patchy and we need to be better at.


"We're not the finished product and I don't think any team is. Coming down to within the last 10 weeks teams are going to be desperate and putting their best foot forward in every way to make sure they get better each week.

"We're just worrying about getting better each week and continuing to grow our game.