Warriors coach Andrew McFadden says his side’s tilt at an NRL finals berth is dependent upon an improvement in attacking execution.
The Warriors enjoyed 54 per cent possession in the first half of their golden-point loss to Canberra on Saturday, hitting the Raiders with wave after wave of attack.
But they only had veteran winger Manu Vatuvei’s wonder-try to show for their efforts in the opening 40 minutes.
Two late first-half tries and two more after the break put Canberra in a dominant position before the Warriors staged a late comeback to push the match into extra time only to suffer a golden point loss.
McFadden told reporters on Wednesday he was disappointed by his side’s inability to put together an 80-minute performance.
Defeating the eighth-placed Panthers on Saturday would depend on converting phases of dominance into points.
“I thought we started well on the weekend, we just lacked a bit of polish on some of the ends of our plays and sets,” McFadden said.
Rising star Tuimoala Lolohea has been reinstated in the starting 13 at fullback in an attempt to add attacking thrust to the line-up.
Incumbent No.1 David Fusitua moves to the centres, while Blake Ayshford drops to the bench.
“The options (Lolohea) gives us, not just from an offensive point of view but for last plays from kicking, might be a bit better balance,” McFadden said.
“He showed me enough on the weekend, he was energised and he was very professional in what was a very difficult week.”
The 21-year-old Lolohea admitted his time spent on the pine had been unsettling but maintained he was happy in Auckland.
He understood McFadden’s decision to bench him in three of the Warriors’ last four matches.
“I react a bit too slow, I’ve just got to get my body in front and some of the contact stuff, especially when there’s line breaks,” Lolohea said.
McFadden said the match against Penrith would go a long way towards determining their finals fate.
Penrith sit one place ahead of the ninth-placed Warriors on the NRL ladder, holding a two-point advantage with six games to play.
“It’s almost like a four-point game,” McFadden said.