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In the lead-up to their trip to Newcastle to tackle the Knights on Sunday night, Warriors coach Andrew Webster made a conscious effort to divert attention away from his team’s poor starts.

Despite conceding a try in the opening five minutes of their first five games this season, the Warriors had recovered to win four of them to be sitting second behind the Broncos heading into Round Six.

The visitors were in a familiar position at McDonald Jones Stadium when Dom Young scored a converted try to give the Knights a 6-0 lead but, as Webster feared, their luck was due to run out.

The Warriors threatened to make another miraculous comeback when they scored two converted tries in six minutes to trim a 22-6 half-time deficit back to 22-18 by the 56th minute, but the Knights responded with two converted tries of their own to win 34-24.

“I didn’t put it at the front of the boys’ minds this week, because that’s all I’ve done,” Webster told reporters at the post-match media conference.

“I’ve put it at the front of their minds and I’ve driven it into them, we’ve practised it, we’ve done scenarios, and I’ve said this in every press conference, so I was like, ‘I’m not doing that this week’.

Match Highlights: Knights v Warriors

“We spoke about an 80-minute performance rather than particular parts of the game, so let’s just play our style of footy that we want to play for 80 minutes as opposed to talking about, ‘let’s start well’, and ‘let’s get this right’.

“We’ll work it out. There’s individuals that are going to have to own those moments, so that’s coming from discipline from individuals, so we’ll work that out.”

Taking advantage of several penalties working off their own line early in the game, the Knights stretched their 6-0 advantage to 10-0 when winger Greg Marzhew scored in the 19th minute, then Tyson Frizell and Phoenix Crossland crossed later in the half to extend the lead to 22-6 by the break.

“Our starts... we’re just piggy-backing them out of trouble,” Webster said.

“We gave three or four yardage penalties away so we’ve just got to dig in a bit and turn them away early and get some confidence from our defence.

“I feel like it’s not from a lack of trying. It’s the complete opposite.

“It’s just discipline and probably not thinking, because they’re so keen, but when you’re piggy-backing them out of trouble it’s often because you’re going early, so we’ve just got to be smarter.

We’ve just got to own moments better and be more disciplined.

Warriors coach Andrew Webster

“There’s still a long way to go. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we’ve started well but we knew this was going to sneak up on us if we didn’t get it right, and it’s happened tonight."

Webster sensed the Warriors were capable of running the Knights down, as they did to beat the Sharks 32-30 at PointsBet Stadium a week earlier, but were not good enough at defending errors.

“I did feel a bit of deja-vu, I’m not going to lie, but I was saying to myself that if we win this one, I don’t know if I’ll be celebrating as hard this week,” he said.

Pompey gets a double

“It’s a bit frustrating how it’s always happening but the boys... they never give up.

“You could be coaching worse teams. You could be coaching teams that give up, but we don’t give up, and I’m proud of that.”

Warriors hooker Wayde Egan did not return after suffering concussion in the 39th minute, and five-eighth Te Maire Martin had to be helped off in the 46th minute because of a leg injury that will require scans to rule out a suspected fractured fibula.

Webster: DWZ ready to return

“He kind of put weight on it, but he was struggling to, so I think he knew something was wrong straight away and the physio didn’t muck around, he said, ‘that’s it’,” Webster said.

The coach indicated former Knights back-rower Mitch Barnett (neck) could still be sidelined for another week or two but hoped captain Tohu Harris returns from a knee injury against North Queensland at Mount Smart Stadium next Saturday.

“I’d be shocked if he’s not,” Webster said.

“He’s done those type of injuries before, so he knows his body pretty well. He’d be certainly welcome back, but if he’s not ready, he’s not ready.”

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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