New Zealand Warriors fail to capitalise on bonus start to 2017 NRL schedule
The sights have now turned to a trip to Sydney after the Warriors failed to capitalise on what was a scheduling bonus through the first three weeks of the 2017 NRL season.
The first three games of Stephen Kearney's coaching tenure at the Warriors have been in New Zealand and it was a start to the season which was hoped would help put the much maligned Auckland-based club on the front foot in 2017.
The Warriors opened the season with two games in Auckland - a win over Newcastle and loss to Melbourne - before heading to Dunedin for Friday's 24-12 loss to the Bulldogs in Dunedin.
Limited travel, home support, it was all weighted in the Warriors favour as they chased early season points.
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One out of three would have fallen short of the Warriors target and now they head to Sydney to take on the Dragons on Sunday - a place where they have traditionally struggled.
"What I know about the NRL competition is we get a chance to prove ourselves next week. We are all disappointed with that second half performance [against the Bulldogs], it is about making sure we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get ready for next week. That was certainly the focus for us in the sheds after the game," Kearney said.
"Regardless of the wins and losses, [the second half performance] was the real disappointing thing."
The return of captain Roger Tuivasa-Scheck and the introduction of star off-season signing Kieran Foran can not come soon enough for a Warriors team which is in desperate need of some momentum.
Foran is recovering from a shoulder surgery and is understood to have had a fitness test in Dunedin on Thursday morning.
Whether the two playmakers are in line for the Dragons fixture will become a little clearer on Tuesday when Kearney names a squad for the Sydney trip.
In the meantime, Kearney is giving little away.
"We've got to name 21 players on Tuesday afternoon so that will probably give you a good indication whether they will be there.
"At this stage, I couldn't tell you. We'll have to have a real good look at them next week."
Veteran wing Manu Vatuvei is almost certain to spend some more time on the sidelines after he reaggravated a knee injury in the loss to the Bulldogs.
The Warriors had a wealth of ball and made the Bulldogs do plenty of defending throughout Friday night's game but managed to cross just twice.
While on the flipside the Bulldogs spent limited time in a strong attacking position but managed to rack up four tries - something that clearly frustrated Kearney.
"I'm not 100 percent sure why it was but it didn't look good," Kearney said about the goal line defence.
"I thought they got over the try line a bit too easy for my liking. We will have to have a really good look at that and make sure we are better next week."