In theory, the Warriors are well in the hunt for an NRL playoff spot.

In practice, they've got a lot to work on after losing to Newcastle on Saturday, their first home loss against the Knights since 2005.

Many of the problems which have left last year's finalists in danger of missing the playoffs resurfaced: the inability to play for 80 minutes and defensive lapses out wide the most obvious.

To make matters worse, they now have to travel to Perth to play Manly, who lost 20-12 to the table-topping Bulldogs on Friday. A win is looking vital for the Warriors, especially if the eighth-placed Wests Tigers defeat North Queensland on Monday night.

"Every lost opportunity of getting two points makes it harder," Warriors coach Brian McClennan said.

"We've got our backs against the wall a bit now. We need to go over to Perth and put in a really good performance."

McClennan says he's a bit mystified at the way the Warriors threw away an 18-0 lead after 20 minutes to go down 24-19 to the surging Knights.

He speculated the team may not have recovered from the previous week's energy-sapping loss in the rain against Brisbane, though he wanted to do some homework before coming to that conclusion.

The team wasn't helped by the loss of wing Manu Vatuvei to a hamstring twinge, with his replacement Omar Slaimankhel caught out a couple of times in defence. McClennan said Vatuvei should be available for the Manly game.

After the Manly match, the Warriors face the Sharks at home, the Cowboys away, Penrith at home, St George Illawarra away and Canberra at home.

The away matches look the toughest: a trip to Perth is never easy, and the Warriors' away records in Townsville and at Wollongong don't make pleasant reading, but they do have a favourable points differential if it comes down to that.

NZ Newswire

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