It took just the first few tackles of Friday night's 24-16 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles to convince Warriors coach Stephen Kearney that his players wouldn't be repeating the limp effort they served up a week earlier in a heavy defeat to the Canberra Raiders.

After leaking 46 points against the Raiders, the Warriors swarmed Manly from the opening kick-off at Mt Smart Stadium and for the next 66 minutes kept one of the Telstra Premiership's form teams scoreless.  

While Manly did eventually score three tries, they all came while Adam Blair was in the sin bin during the final 15 minutes of the game, after he was ruled to have made illegal contact on Manase Fainu.

Kearney said the side's enthusiasm on the opening set laid the platform for the victory, which ended a six-game Auckland losing streak for the Warriors and kept their slim play-off hopes alive.

"It's a good start, sometimes that doesn't always translate into the victory, but it sets a tone for the group and sends the opposition a message too," Kearney said of the opening exchanges.

"I thought it was our defence [that was the difference in the first half].

"They ended up having 55 percent possession of the footy, so they had a fair bit of possession on us down on our try line and we managed to keep them out.

"That was a bit of desperation, we probably frustrated them into some errors there and we put ourselves in the picture.

"There was a couple of times there where we looked short ,and they're the type of team that don't need a great deal to get over the try line ... and we found a way to stop it."

The Warriors scored three first-half tries and kicked a penalty to lead 18-0 at the break, and held that advantage until Blair was sent to the sin bin with 14 to play.

Halfback Blake Green said he always expected the attitude towards defence to improve after the weak effort against the Raiders.

"We were really tough, we were aggressive, we were flying out of the line and making some good contact which we needed to do tonight," Green said.

"Everyone was pretty desperate to get into that first bit of contact and get themselves into the game.

"I thought we played a really controlled game of footy."

Among the standout features of the win was the performance of rookie half Chanel Harris-Tavita, who was handed a start in place of the injured Kodi Nikorima and was arguably his side's best through the first half.  

The 20-year-old set up both of Ken Maumalo's tries – the first with a pinpoint kick and the second with quick hands on the end of a backline move – and he also contributed eight points off the boot.

It leaves Kearney with a dilemma on his hands when it comes to the No.6 jersey, with Nikorima expected to overcome his ankle injury in time to take on the Roosters next Sunday.

Kearney said it was possible that Nikorima could instead play hooker next week, with the club desperately short of players in that position right now.

"We'll assess that once that comes around," Kearney said.

"I didn't hesitate in putting [Chanel] in tonight – Kodi possibly could have played tonight – but the way the kid Chanel has been going, it just gave me confidence to make the decision during the week.

"One thing that I have admired about Chanel's performances all year is that he hasn't sat back and waited for the dominant half, Greeny, to call the shots or make plays.

"He's stepped forward himself. To me that's a real positive sign.

"I thought he was really good again tonight."