Debutant Ngani Laumape distinguished himself as one of the Vodafone Warriors busiest players as they battled a dominant Cronulla and extreme heat in Sundays third-round NRL clash at Sharks Stadium.
The 19-year-old Laumape, a Palmerston North Boys High School product, was handed the challenge of coming into side for Glen Fisiiahi, who stayed in Auckland following his sisters death.
He was the Vodafone Junior Warriors top try scorer in his debut campaign in the NYC last year, scoring 16 tries in 20 appearances.
Used in NRL trials against Gold Coast and Penrith scoring a try on both occasions Laumape lined up for the Vulcans in their first two New South Wales Cup games, scoring another try in their two-point loss to Manly.
As Vodafone Warrior No 180, he went searching for work in his first NRL game on Sunday, finishing an error-free outing with the most metres gained (116) for his team. Of his 13 runs only Konrad Hurrell with 15 had more a game-high six were from dummy half. Hurrell (115 metres) was the only other Vodafone Warrior to top 100 metres, captain Simon Mannering the next best with 79 metres from nine carries.
With starting prop Steve Rapira out of the game after only four minutes with a gory ear wound, interchange front rower Jacob Lillyman had a heavy workload playing 63 minutes in all and finishing with a game-high 43 tackles. Todd Lowrie was just behind with 42 tackles followed by Mannering with 32 and Ben Matulino and Pita Godinet with 31 each.
The Sharks dominated all key statistics to the point they might have been expected to score more points than they did. For one they had 37 sets in possession while the Vodafone Warriors had only 30 sets. While the Sharks made 1579 metres from 170 runs, the Vodafone Warriors registered just 938 metres from only 110 runs; the line breaks read 5-1 Cronullas way and the home side made just 261 tackles to the Vodafone Warriors 339. Staggeringly Cronulla was judged to have missed only one tackle the whole match, the Vodafone Warriors 26. Ineffective tackles read 27-6 and off loads 16-3. Cronulla also forced five goal-line drop outs.