Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has demanded more of his senior players on their tricky run towards a possible NRL finals campaign.
The Warriors wilted in a 36-12 loss on the Gold Coast on Sunday after establishing a 12-8 lead at halftime.
A win would would have put them three victories clear of ninth with five games remaining.
Instead, they leaked five unanswered tries and miss a chance to consolidate their first NRL finals campaign since 2011.
It was a shock turn of events given they had won their past seven at Cbus Super Stadium, 14 of their past 15 against the Titans and seven of nine away games this year.
And with a majority of the 15,149 in attendance draped in Warriors garb, everything appeared to be in their favour.
“I’m scratching my head trying to figure that out,” Kearney said.
“I don’t like using the word but I thought it was pretty soft in the second half.
“There was a fair bit on the line and to produce a second half of that standard makes it very disappointing.”
The Warriors were the NRL’s pacesetters after five undefeated rounds.
Now, with a testing run home that includes games against St George, Newcastle, Canterbury, Penrith and Canberra, they’re just two wins above Wests Tigers and three above Canberra with an inferior for-and-against.
“We have to stare that in the face – we have a big challenge ahead of us,” Kearney said.
They will remain on the Gold Coast early this week before travelling south to play the Dragons next Saturday afternoon hopeful that both Issac Luke (calf) and Tohu Harris (knee) will join them after missing Sunday’s loss.
Kearney said they couldn’t afford to dish up efforts like Sunday’s again but the experienced duo’s return wouldn’t provide an instant fix.
“I don’t know if potentially they could have helped us today, but we had 17 guys out there who could’ve,” he said.
“I thought our two most committed players were a 19-year-old back-rower (Joseph Vuna) and the other turned 20 last week (Isaiah Papali’i).
“That said something about our performance when we had two young fellas leading the way for us.”