Warriors coach Nathan Brown admits his team have "a way to go" to compete with the top echelon of NRL teams, after their 32-12 defeat to the Roosters on Sunday night.
Following their impressive 34-31 comeback win over the Raiders last week, the Warriors were brought back to earth with a bump against the well-honed Roosters machine.
The Warriors led 12-4 midway through the first half, before the Roosters scored five unanswered tries.
The Bondi outfit may be missing some key players – with half Luke Keary out for the season with an ACL injury – but they still have class across the park.
Perhaps more importantly, they also have the experience of numerous successful campaigns over the last eight years, with three grand finals and three preliminary finals and are masters of the grind.
In a match where both teams were sloppy in possession, the Roosters gradually squeezed the life out of the Warriors with their aggressive defence, then wore them down further with their relentless ruck speed on attack.
"Even though the score suggested it was a reasonably close game I thought they played a lot faster than us," said Brown. "We were in the game for a longer period than it ended up but I still think we have a way to go to catch up to those sides."
Brown identified the Roosters' ability to lift the tempo with ball in hand, as well as their famed defensive resilience, as the key points of difference at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
"They played very quick which obviously took a lot of juice out of us so [while] we did a lot of yardage kicks they were doing a lot of attacking kicks," said Brown.
"The other thing that stood out [was] they saved three or four tries where we didn't save any. The better teams find ways to keep you from scoring and the Roosters have been up there for a fair while now. At crucial moments and on the counter, they get you; they were a bit too good for us."
Despite the Roosters' overall dominance – with six line breaks to one – the match turned early in the second half. Trailing 16-12, the Warriors had four consecutive sets on the Roosters line, but couldn't convert. Their attack lacked structure and variety, while the Roosters defensive line speed and spirit was impressive.
When the Sydney team retained possession – from a Warriors knock on – they marched the length of the field before Brett Morris dived over from dummy half.
"It was very crucial," agreed Brown. "Probably summed up the game. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves saved two [tries], then they got a soft one on us."
The Warriors' unfortunate run of injuries continued on Sunday, with marquee prop Addin Fonua-Blake forced from the field in the 14th minute with a knee injury and Brown all but ruled him out of Friday's clash with Manly.
"It's highly unlikely in such a short turnaround," said Brown. "I don't know how it is, got to hope it is only a minor one and he doesn't miss too much. We've got a few blokes wounded."
Brown remains generally satisfied with the first month of the season but knows the learning curve remains steep.
"We've had four games, two good wins and two losses," said Brown. "It was a very tight one against the Knights, probably 50-50, but today we got beaten by a good side. They certainly showed we have some work to do to get to where we want to get to."