An improved effort is still not good enough for interim NZ Warriors coach Todd Payten, who is demanding more consistency from his players.
After being thrashed by the Sharks last week in what Payten described as "their worst performance of the season", the Warriors put up a brave fight against Sydney Roosters, before losing 18-10 on Saturday afternoon.
The Warriors led 10-6 lead at the break, but the Roosters showed their class, as they dominated possession in the second half, before pulling away to secure victory.
The eight-point win is the Roosters' first this season under 10 points - the average winning margin in their other six victories a whopping 27.5.
But for the Warriors, the loss is their third straight and they now sit six points outside the top eight with nine games remaining.
Payten says he now has the benchmark he wants his team to meet every week moving forward, starting next weekend against Wests Tigers.
"I don't want to say I'm proud of them, but that's the minimum requirement for us," he says. "We need that effort and intent for another 10 weeks.
"We've got to shift our mindset. We can't be happy with pushing the two-time defending premiers.
"I spoke to the gentlemen after the game and was firm about not being happy with that.
"We showed some defensive resilience. We turned them away time and time again on our own try-line, they scored two tries from kicks and we had a play where we should have shut it down.
"We probably proved to ourselves that we're a decent team, but we’re still a ways away from being a tough, consistent team."
The game was the last of the season for Warriors wingers David Fusitu'a and Ken Maumalo, who will now return to New Zealand for family reasons, alongside forwards Agnatius Paasi and King Vuniyayawa.
Just before kick-off, the Warriors confirmed Parramatta Eels duo Daniel Alvaro and George Jennings will join the team on month-long loans.
"They're super excited," says Payten. "There's some quality there too, which will help.
"But they need to learn pretty quickly. In 4-5 days, they need to know our calls, understand our structures and find themselves within the group.
"That's another challenge for them and us."
Alvaro and Jennings follow in the footsteps of Roosters prop Poasa Faamausili and Penrith Panthers forward Jack Hetherington, who has had his loan extended by a further four weeks.
Hetherington arguably played his best game for the Warriors since joining the team last month, playing with lots of energy, as he got under the skin of Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
The pair went toe-to-toe in the season half and after the fulltime siren, Kiwi Waerea-Hargreaves knocked back Hetherington's offer of a friendly post-game handshake.
"He's settled in really well," Payten says of Hetherington.
"I was excited to get him into the group, because of that very reason. He's a different body shape, he offers us an offload, some leg speed through the middle and a lot of aggression.
"He doesn't take a backward step and I think some of our guys can learn that, just by watching him go about his business."
Roosters coach Trent Robinson feels the front-row battle made the match a great watch.
"It was good to see some physicality and that's what we want to see," he says.
"We want to see guys going at it and having a few words, keeping it within the rules of the game, but we want to see that type of stuff as well.
"Big men letting their tempers go a bit too far, but keeping within the rules of the game."
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