The Warriors continue to scale unforeseen — and unexpected — heights.

At almost the halfway point of the NRL season, the Auckland club sits third on the ladder, two points off the top.

They have a tough run coming in June and July, with trips to Townsville, Penrith, Brisbane along with the visits of the Sharks and Storm to Auckland.

There's also a game in Christchurch against a resurgent Manly side, who are a traditional bogey team for the Warriors.


But they now have a solid foundation for the rest of 2018, a crucial difference to past years.

Usually around this time the calculators are out at Mt Smart HQ, to work out what kind of improbable run they'll need to make the playoffs.

It often involves an intimidating amount of wins, with little margin for error.

The temptation to use players who are not quite 100 per cent is increased, and any downturn in luck can have grave implications.

That's not the case this year.

With 16 points banked before June, logic suggests the Warriors will need another six wins from their remaining 13 games to make the top eight.

Ideally, the Warriors will want to stay part of the top four, which guarantees a double life in the playoffs.

Peta Hiku of the Warriors scores a try during the round 11 Parramatta Eels and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium on May 18, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. Photo / Getty Images.
Peta Hiku of the Warriors scores a try during the round 11 Parramatta Eels and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium on May 18, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. Photo / Getty Images.

The next best option is to finish fifth or sixth, which means a home semi-final, and the first playoff game at Mt Smart since 2010.

It's a prime situation.

After 11 rounds, they've already won more games (eight) than they did in the entire season last year (seven).

The gritty 24-14 win over the Eels on Friday night was their fourth across the Tasman in 2018, equalling the amount of away victories in the last two years combined.

They've learned to live without Shaun Johnson, with Mason Lino developing into a capable backup, and have dealt with the absences of other key men like Issac Luke, Simon Mannering and Tohu Harris.

Putting aside the forgettable maulings by the Storm and Roosters, Warriors have also regained their defensive steel.

That resolve was again evident on Friday night, especially late in the first half when they were reduced to 12 men with Isaiah Papalii in the sin bin.

For a six minute period before halftime they held firm, under incessant pressure, with Parramatta camped in their territory.

The Warriors have also rediscovered their attacking flair.

It all but disappeared last year, as the team adapted a grinding, no frills style that was neither effective nor entertaining.

There were some mitigating factors, specifically the lack of dominance from the forwards, but this year there is more of a willingness to chance their arm.

Sometimes it goes wrong – an ambitious Peta Hiku offload last Friday which was split by Lino midway through the second half could have proved costly – but the intent is there and the Warriors have managed more second phase play than any other team in the competition.

No one should get too carried away with Friday's night win, as it was a scrappy, untidy display.

And they were facing a team whose confidence is at rock bottom, and the Eels came up with some awful errors.

The Parramatta forwards also won the trench battle for much of the match, giving the visitors a large defensive workload.

But it was also the kind of win that players often enjoy the most, knowing they weren't quite there, but getting the job done nonetheless.

"It was a pretty ugly performance but sometimes those are the best games to win, when you don't play your best footy," said 286-game veteran Mannering. "There was lots of effort out there."

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