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[ISP finals] Same side to face Wyong

Richard Becht | Image: www.photosport.nz

An unchanged Vodafone Warriors line-up has been named to face minor premiers the Wyong Roos in Sunday’s Intrust Super Premiership preliminary final at Leichhardt Oval (1.05pm kick-off local time; 3.05pm NZT).

Coming off Sunday’s impressive 30-6 semi-final success agauinst Newcastle, the Vodafone Warriors meet a Wyong side which advanced directly to week three of the playoffs after beating fourth-placed Canterbury-Bankstown 34-26 in the qualifying finals.

Roosters star Lattrell Mitchell scored two tries in Wyong’s 20-14 success over the Vodafone Warriors at Mount Smart Stadium in late April while the Vodafone Warriors scored a late converted try to draw 26-26 with the Roosters’ feeder side in round 24 last month.

Wyong finished four points clear of the second-placed Vodafone Warriors in the regular season. Familiar faces for the Roos this year have included halves Mitchell Cornish and Jayden Nikorima, centre Joseph Manu and Eloni Vunakece, all of whom have appeared at NRL level for the Roosters while Cornish has also played for Canberra.

The Vodafone Warriors’ expected starting 17 includes 14 players with NRL experience, the only three non-first graders being centre Junior Pauga, prop Daniel Palavi and second rower Ofahiki Ogden, all former NYC players for the club. The most experienced NRL players are front rowers Albert Vete (44 games) and Charlie Gubb (40 games).

The Vodafone Warriors overcame a shortage of possession, a corresponding heavy defensive workload, a lop-sided penalty count and a modest completion rate to account for the Knights convincingly last Sunday night.

Possession favoured Newcastle 56 per cent to 44 percent while the Vodafone Warriors completed only 25 of 37 sets (68 per cent) and also lost the penalty count 10-5. It resulted in them making 346 tackles to just 277 for Newcastle yet they worked their way to a 30-0 lead before conceding a try inside the final three minutes. While they defended courageously they also benefited from superb kicking games from Mason Lino and Ata Hingano.

The performance gives the Vodafone Warriors the chance to make the ISP grand final for just the second time. As a joint Vodafone Warriors-Auckland Rugby League venture, the Auckland Vulcans lost the then-New South Wales Cup grand final 28-30 to Canterbury-Bankstown in 2011.

Centre Matt Allwood will this week become the fifth player to make 50 ISP appearances for the club since it took over the running of the side in 2014. He follows John Palavi and Upu Poching plus James Bell (64 games) and Mason Lino (54 games) who also reached the mark this season.

  • Lino was one of the three finalists for the Intrust Super Premiership Player of the Year award announced last night. The other two were Cameron Cullen (Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles) and Mitch Rein (Penrith). Cullen won the title.

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS v WYONG ROOS

Leichhardt Oval, Sydney

1.05pm, Sunday, September 17

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1        ZAC SANTO

2        CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD

3        MATTHEW ALLWOOD

4        JUNIOR PAUGA

5        BURETA FARAIMO

6        MAFOA’AEATA HINGANO

7        MASON LINO (c)

8        DANIEL PALAVI

9        MANAIA CHERRINGTON

10       CHARLIE GUBB

11       OFAHIKI OGDEN

12       ISAIAH PAPALI’I

13       JAMES BELL

Interchange:

14       JAZZ TEVAGA

15       LIGI SAO

16       ALBERT VETE

17       TOAFOFOA SIPLEY

18       CHRIS SATAE

20       SAM COOK

21      SEMISI FOTU

COACH | RICKY HENRY