With new rules and one referee creating a new landscape in the NRL, Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has called for his side to be more ruthless in particular areas of the game.

The competition got back underway last weekend, with the return to a single referee and a new 'six-again' rule where the tackle count is restarted for ruck penalties.

After one week showcasing the changes, it's clear they have made for a more action-packed product. Speaking to Newstalk ZB's D'Arcy Waldegrave, Kearney said the changes also made certain areas of the game more important and he wants his side to capitalise on them.

"The whole round, particularly watching the three games before ours…gave us an insight into the rules and certainly what the one ref is going to do for the game," Kearney said.

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"What it did toss up was about possession and holding on to the footy."

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The importance of holding onto the football was a message that stuck with the Warriors, who completed 44 straight sets before finishing the game completing 46 of their 48 sets, setting and NRL record for more completed sets.

Coupled with a strong defensive effort, the Gosford-based Kiwi outfit was too good for the St George Illawarra Dragons, claiming an 18-0 win and earning their first competition points of the campaign.

While there was plenty for Kearney to be happy about in the performance, he said the moments of transition between having the ball and having to defend needed some work.

"I just thought there was an area of our game in the transition from when we kicked the footy to when we had to defend the kick – our kick chase and getting down there – I just thought we weren't ruthless enough in that area and over the coming weeks that's going to be real critical in the way the game is being played at the moment.

The NRL rule changes suit players with strong running games such as Kodi Nikorima. Photo / Photosport
The NRL rule changes suit players with strong running games such as Kodi Nikorima. Photo / Photosport

"A lot of it was new to all of the teams over the weekend, but what you have to have an awareness of is certainly it's a lot quicker, and the transitions from when you have the ball to when you have to defend are going to be critical."

The side will look to step up their game in that aspect when they visit the Penrith Panthers in Sydney on Friday night, who come into the clash on the back of a draw against a depleted Newcastle Knights team.

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The Warriors remain without several key players, with centre Peta Hiku the latest to join the casualty ward after suffering a rib injury against the Dragons. Utility Karl Lawton takes his place at left centre for the clash with the Panthers, while new arrival Poasa Faamausili replaces the suspended Agnatius Paasi on the bench.

With the alterations to the game in place, fatigue through the clash could be a big deciding factor in who comes away with the points particularly looking at the weapons at each team's disposal. Both are armed with damaging ball runners in the pack – with the showdown between Warriors young gun Eliesa Katoa and Penrith's Viliame Kikau one to excite fans – while both backlines will be capable of splitting the opposition open if given the space.

"You could certainly get a sense of watching the footy over the weekend that it is quicker, and with the one ref on the field there is less critiquing of everything – every tackle, every run – and it makes for a more open style of footy," Kearney said.

"After the win that we had, I'm going to say (the changes) looked pretty good."