Warriors maintain focus

RUGBY LEAGUE

The Warriors answered coach Andrew McFadden's fears over possible distractions with a hard-fought but ultimately comfortable 38-18 win over Newcastle in Auckland.

Warriors captain Simon Mannering thanks the crowd after his 200th NRL martch for the club. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Warriors captain Simon Mannering thanks the crowd after his 200th NRL martch for the club. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Sunday's match was Simon Mannering's 200th in the NRL and his 100th as skipper and also marked the Warriors' return to their traditional home of Mount Smart Stadium for the first time this year.

Mannering responded by scoring two tries while the Warriors only kicked away with three tries in the last 16 minutes against a resilient Knights.

McFadden felt the Warriors were short of their best but he was happy to get the two points.

"It was a big week for our team - a lot of expectation about returning to Mt Smart and Simon's milestones," he said.

"That expectation we haven't always handled."

Newcastle had late withdrawals in winger Akuila Uate (knee) and NSW Origin forward Beau Scott (groin).

But McFadden said there was still plenty of quality in their side.

"They were certainly committed and they made us work for it," he said.

"That was probably what was most pleasing for us as well - the way we closed the game out."

The win was the Warriors' fourth from five outings and puts them within two points of the top eight and continues the momentum they have built since McFadden took over in mid-April.

For the Knights, it was their fifth loss in-a-row and keeps them second bottom in the competition.

They were left to rue errors that led to two Warriors tries, having fought back to within four points on both occasions.

With half-time approaching, Jarrod Mullen's chip into touch from his half led to Mannering's second try.

Midway through the second half, Chris Houston's dropped ball resulted in Chad Townsend getting his first four-pointer for the Warriors.

Newcastle skipper Kurt Gidley also pointed to his side's frailties on the opposition's last-tackle plays.

"We put plenty of effort into it, plenty of fire, but they're really frustrating, those last-play tries," he said.

"You're prepared to work for five tackles and not for the last one. It wears away at you. Three tries off the last play is not good enough."

In front of 19,068 fans, Newcastle struck first when Tyrone Roberts snared Mullen's in-field kick to score under the posts.

The Warriors hit back through Mannering, who produced a deft kick and regather to dot down.

They then scored off two similar kicks from Shaun Johnson to Manu Vatuvei's wing.

Vatuvei batted back the first for Sam Tomkins to cross then grabbed hold of the second for the first of his own personal double.

Newcastle closed the gap through Joey Leilua, who pounced on to Roberts' grubber, but Mannering's second try helped the Warriors to a 22-12 half-time lead.

The Knights' continued attacking intent was rewarded early in the second half when Roberts' offload sent Robbie Rochow over.

But late tries to Townsend, Konrad Hurrell and Vatuvei blew out the scoreline. - AAP

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