NZME's Dale Budge breaks down three things we learned from last night's Warriors loss.
The Warriors can't rely on attitude
Most games this season the Warriors have out-enthused their opponents. They've played with more intensity, more aggression and been prepared to scrap harder than the other team. That is the chief reason for their lofty position on the NRL ladder. But it won't be enough to rely on every week.
It is just too hard in this competition to be at 100 percent in that department each and every game.
The Roosters were smarting from their bum-smacking at the hands of the Warriors earlier in the season and they turned up more desperate than the Warriors were last night.
By losing that area of the game the Warriors were then out-classed by a team with almost certainly a better roster on paper.
While I fully expect the attitude and effort to be back to the expected level next week, the Warriors will now know they need to improve their skill-set, game plans and execution if they are to cut it with the best teams week in and week out.
Issac Luke is the player the Warriors can least afford to be without
Luke has enjoyed and up and down stint in Auckland over the past two and a half seasons but he has certainly be a key performer this season for the Warriors.
Already without their primary back-up hooker Nathaniel Roache the Warriors really struggled without Luke's guidance and service from dummy half last night.
Karl Lawton is a handy back-up as is Jazz Tevaga but neither are a first rate starting hooker.
The service they provided out of acting half was adequate at best and on a wet night where crisp ball is at a premium the Warriors lost a lot with the Kiwi test hooker's absence.
While losing Simon Mannering or Shaun Johnson in previous seasons has been considered the worst case scenario – there is enough depth in the roster to cover those players now as the results have already demonstrated. But without Roache, the Warriors can't afford to lose Luke for very long.
The middle forwards are still an area of concern
The successful start to the season has papered over the Warriors lack of genuine go-forward up front.
The big step forward Bunty Afoa has made in 2018 plus the acquisition of Aganatius Paasi has helped improve their ability to get over the advantage line but it isn't yet an area of strength and against really good sides they will be bettered more often than not.
The Roosters came to Mt Smart looking to silent critics – their middle has been bagged consistently in recent times – and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dylan Napa, Isaac Liu and Zane Tetevano aimed up big time last night. The Warriors had little answer early on and really only fired a couple of shots back when James Gavet came on in the second half and Afoa enjoyed a better second stint in the second spell. It goes without saying their primary area to focus on improving this year is up front and it should be high on the agenda come free agency too.