The Warriors’ 42-0 thumping of the Gold Coast Titans means they will make the NRL finals if they beat Penrith in Sydney next weekend.
The Warriors have given themselves a simple equation – beat fourth-placed Penrith away next Sunday and they book a spot in the NRL finals.
The Warriors put their finals’ fate back into their own hands with a 42-0 thumping of the Gold Coast Titans in Auckland on Sunday to climb to ninth on the ladder – just outside the top eight on for and against.
If they come away with the points against the Panthers, they will leapfrog at least either Melbourne or Brisbane, who face each other in the final round.
If they had beaten the Titans by 50 or more they would’ve taken eighth spot from the Broncos with one round remaining but they were denied any points over the last half hour.
The Warriors rebounded from two successive defeats to score seven tries against the Titans, with fullback Sam Tomkins grabbing a double.
Coach Andrew McFadden was delighted with his team’s reaction, especially after the heavy 46-12 loss to the Sydney Roosters in the previous round.
“It was terrific the way we bounced back,” he said.
“We obviously had a huge amount of disappointment last week. The boys really knuckled down and it was a great response tonight.”
McFadden had special praise for the pack after calling on them to lay the platform.
“The Titans always present a physical game,” he said.
“That was the challenge for us and I thought the forwards dominated there.”
The win on a cold, damp afternoon at Mount Smart Stadium was the Warriors’ largest over Gold Coast.
It also continued their dominance in recent seasons over the Titans, whom they have now beaten in their last eight meetings going back to 2011.
The Titans were already out of finals reckoning after losing their last five matches before this weekend and their forwards options were depleted by injury.
They showed enterprise with plenty of offloads and also kept the Warriors scoreless in the last half-hour.
But they struggled to get enough possession and made some costly errors.
Titans’ caretaker coach Neil Henry said poor defensive reads played a part in the opening quarter, when the Warriors raced to an 18-0 lead.
He also said the Titans needed more than 50 per cent share of possession against the bigger Warriors, but managed around 38 per cent.
“We had to be squeaky clean with our ball control, but we turned it over a bit,” he said.
“It was entertaining. We strung some passes together, but it was disappointing, our defence in that first 20, when they blew us off the park.”
Despite having the wind at their backs in the opening spell, the Titans turned around down 30-0.
The Warriors continued to tick the score over early in the second spell, with tries to Tomkins and Shaun Johnson, who also landed all his seven shots at goal.
The contest blew up briefly in the 55th minute with a scuffle between Gold Coast skipper Greg Bird and Warriors winger Ngani Laumape, and both were put on report.
The incident appeared to spur on the Titans, who began to have more chances on attack, while frustrating the Warriors on defence.
In front of 13,540 fans, the Warriors made a flying start to the match with tries to Ben Henry, Dominique Peyroux and Nathan Friend.
Tomkins and Konrad Hurrell also dotted in the first half.