After 10 rounds of the NRL season, the Warriors finally have a platform to launch.

They are still outsiders to make the top eight, but if they maintain the positive aspects of the last two performances, and continue to incrementally improve, they could at least be in the finals equation later in the year.

That looked unlikely a fortnight ago, when a flat performance at home to the Knights consigned them to their fourth consecutive loss.

But they've turned things around, built on improved defensive intensity and organisation.


They kept their line intact for the last hour of the game against the Dragons, while the Panthers didn't score a point until the 69th minute on Friday night.

The Warriors scrambled as a team, allied with some special efforts. A forceful Jazz Tevaga hit dislodged the ball as Moses Leota was about to dive over, while Bunty Afoa stopped a charging Viliame Kikau dead in his tracks a metre out.

Patrick Herbert has strengthened the right edge immeasurably, and after just four games, has locked up one centre spot for the foreseeable future.

Isaiah Papali'I, who exhibited a new 'Mr T' style Mohawk haircut on Friday (courtesy of room mate Tevaga) has also made his mark over the last fortnight, while props Leeson Ah Mau and Agnatius Paasi have been outstanding.

Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was superb again on Friday, with strong runs from the back and some timely interventions on attack, as he continues to develop his playmaking role.

Kodi Nikorima was more involved than last week, and is thriving with his roving commission. He scored an important individual try, and cut the Panthers open with another dummy half burst.

"I was pleased for Kodi," said coach Stephen Kearney. "A couple of touches showed what he can do, really trouble a defensive line. I thought he could have been even better tonight. It showed his capability, but he could have done more. Between him, 'Greenie' and Roger, they could have managed some periods a bit better."

Nikorima's integration has been swift, but Kearney isn't surprised.


"He fits into the group pretty well, he knows a number of the lads through the Kiwis team and he's cocky little [guy]…he makes himself feel comfortable," said Kearney. "He doesn't sit back and shy away from it. He's got that sort of personality where he jumps in and gets on the front foot."

Friday's performance was particularly impressive given the six day turnaround and consecutive games across the Tasman.

But it was still patchy, with four consecutive sets blighted by errors leading into halftime, a spell that could have proved disastrous against superior teams to the bumbling Panthers.

"We are getting better," said Blake Green. "But there is a lot of clunky stuff in there too."

The Warriors will need to improve significantly next Saturday against the Broncos, who played at a finals level intensity to beat the Roosters 15-10 on Friday night.

But at least the confidence and belief is back at Mt Smart, and Warriors can take on the next stretch of matches (Broncos, home; Storm, home; Titans, away; Panthers, home) with some optimism, though Kearney is keeping his feet on the ground.

"I'm not going to let them get carried away," said Kearney. "Seven or eight days ago we were in the same position as Penrith (a two win, six loss record). We have to dust ourselves off and prepare again for next week, that's the challenge of the NRL. I might sound boring, but we have to stick at our processes, keep working away."