Warriors coach Stephen Kearney says his side will need to be at their best to contain St George Illawarra's playmakers and lightning quick fullback Matt Dufty in tomorrow's NRL clash in Auckland.

The two best attacking teams go head-to-head at Mt Smart Stadium with the unbeaten Dragons sitting atop of the NRL ladder after six rounds, while the third-placed Warriors hope to bounce back following their first defeat last week against Brisbane.

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The Warriors are determined to find more intensity and energy after a flat display in the 27-18 loss to the Broncos and better line speed will be crucial to their hopes of stifling the Dragons roll-on.

The visitors boast plenty of forward power along with creativity in the halves and finishing class out wide, but Kearney is confident the home side can match them in all areas if his players perform to their potential.


"The spine that they have, young Dufty, (Cameron) McInnes, Ben (Hunt) and Gareth (Widdop), they're the form spine of the competition and they've got some guys there in between them all that are doing a fantastic job," Kearney said.

"They're putting real pressure on the opposition with their attack and then obviously you've got to defend and they're doing that very well also, so we're going to be up against it.

"We know if we play our best game of footy then we give ourselves a great opportunity."

The Warriors have plenty of flair of their own with wing David Fusitu'a bagging eight tries so far to be the competitions leading try scorer on the end of a potent right-edge featuring Shaun Johnson, Tohu Harris and Peta Hiku, but both Dufty (6) and Dragons centre Euan Aitken (5) are right behind him.

McInnes' speed out of dummy half will also test the Warriors ruck defence, while Kearney hinted they will look to kick away from Dufty after he scored two stunning tries in last week's 40-20 win over Cronulla.

Dufty revealed this week he had knocked back an approach from the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.
Dufty revealed this week he had knocked back an approach from the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.

"Try and keep the ball away from him for starters," Kearney said.

"We've seen what he's capable of and we've just got to make sure that when he does carry the footy we're all in, because he catches the ball on one side of the field and he's over on the other side of the park very quickly.

"It's just having a real awareness of it and so the guys have been made aware of it."


The 22-year-old speedster this week revealed the Warriors had attempted to lure him across the Tasman when he was making a name for himself in the lower grades.

Dufty caught the Warriors attention having scored 54 tries in 60 matches for the Dragons under 20s side, but the club's coaching staff were wise to deny him a release.

''The Warriors showed a lot of interest because someone was injured over there," Dufty told NRL.com.

"I thought it was a realistic thing but then Mary [coach Paul McGregor] and Benny Hornby came up to me and said 'there's no way we're letting you go'.

"That was probably the best thing that's ever happened to me."

The Warriors face a big challenge containing the Dragons pack led by prop James Graham. Photo / Getty Images.
The Warriors face a big challenge containing the Dragons pack led by prop James Graham. Photo / Getty Images.

Meanwhile, Warriors lock Adam Blair is looking forward to taking on the highly rated Dragons pack, led by Canterbury recruit James Graham and fellow front-rower Paul Vaughan.

But the Kiwis World Cup captain warns his side need to be ready to roll their sleeves up after they were dominated physically with and without the ball last week.

"They have quality international forwards and players throughout their team," Blair said.

"Everyone's saying that they're one of the better teams, the best forward pack in the comp at the moment, so it's a challenge for our middles.

"We weren't up to it last week so we have to bounce back pretty quick.

"(We need to) come out here committed as a group and turn up with the attitude that we're going to get stuck in and do it together as a forward pack, because if we don't turn up they'll put a scoreline on us."

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