Four players snared doubles as the Vodafone Warriors surged to a record 56-18 win over Brisbane in Monday night's 12th-round NRL clash at Suncorp Stadium.
The club's first away win since beating Gold Coast in July last year also produced its biggest winning margin in three years, the 38-point difference coincidentally eclipsing the previous 32-point record winning margins achieved in home and away matches against Brisbane in 2010 (48-16 and 36-4).
Striking a Brisbane side missing Queensland Origin players Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker and Matt Gillett, the Vodafone Warriors let their guard down only momentarily in charging to just their third win in nine matches at Suncorp Stadium.
On what was a heavy and slippery surface, the Vodafone Warriors built on the gains theyd made in their critical, confidence-boosting 28-12 win against the Newcastle Knights eight days earlier.
The significant improvement came in the area of execution, the Vodafone Warriors sticking to their structures to create ample pressure to earn the opportunity to put the Broncos to the sword with an exhilarating, freewheeling display yielding 10 tries.
The signs of a special performance were clear in the opening minutes as giant winger Manu Vatuvei, playing his 160th career game, underlined the rich vein of form hes in by once again being the first try scorer of the match. It took him just three minutes to score against Newcastle; this time he was marginally slower given room in the fourth minute as Thomas Leuluai, Feleti Mateo and Kevin Locke worked the ball left for the big man to power over at the corner.
Vatuvei might well have had a second a little later only the would-be try wasnt sent upstairs when a subsequent replay appeared to suggest it would have been worth a look. Vatuvei was certainly confident hed scored from a spilled bomb.
Fortunately it wasnt to prove costly as the Vodafone Warriors kept coming at the Broncos, splitting them up the middle before Shaun Johnson went on one of his tantalising weaving runs, his offload ricocheting off Brisbane winger Jordan Kahu for Glen Fisiiahi to swoop on for his first try.
Despite the two tries inside 13 minutes, the Vodafone Warriors were just 8-0 ahead with Johnson missing the wide-angled conversions from each side of the field.
A period of some anxiety followed as an error allowed Brisbane to profit with a nicely-worked try for Kiwi fullback Josh Hoffman playing in the centres plus a conversion and a Scott Prince penalty. Suddenly the Broncos were level at 8-8.
It didnt stay that way for long. Johnson linked with Locke who was again the provider, this time on the right edge, as he turned the ball back inside for a rampant Konrad Hurrell to power over. Again Johnson was off target but it would prove to be his last miss.
Two key moments followed in the space of four minutes the 32nd and 36th and both featured standoff Thomas Leuluai.
For the first Mateo deftly chipped over the defensive line on the last tackle, regathered and floated out a long ball to Vatuvei on the left. Checked as he took the ball, Vatuvei offloaded inside for the supporting Leuluai to score.
The next try came as Locke pushed through a kick, Brisbane winger Aaron Whitchurch fumbled trying to clean up, Locke pouncing to collect and give Leuluai his second try in four minutes.
From 8-8 the score-line had mushroomed to 24-8 and right on halftime became 26-8 with a Johnson penalty.
The follow-up in the opening phase of the second half couldnt have been better as the Vodafone Warriors stayed solid to lay on another three tries in relatively short order.
The half was only three minutes old when Mateo cleverly blocked a last-tackle attacking grubber by Brisbane, flicking it up with his foot and then feeding Vatuvei supporting him on his right shoulder. Vatuvei rarely sees open pasture but this time he did, Brisbanes goal-line 73 metres downfield as he was set free.
He quickly found his top-end speed, scorching away from the cover and burning off Norman to score his eighth try of the season, indeed his eighth in his last six games.
In the 53rd minute, Johnson flung a pass 25 metres to his right, finding Fisiiahi who expertly put Hurrell in for a try in the corner. With Johnsons splendid conversion the halftime lead of 26-8 had become 38-8 and then 44-8 four minutes later when burly Russell Packer ploughed over for not just his first try of the year but also his first in 74 matches since May 2010.
A riposte from Brisbane via tries to Alex Glenn and Prince trimming the margin slightly to 18-44 had the television commentators almost willing a Vodafone Warriors collapse, or so it seemed to biased ears.
This time, though, as they did against Newcastle last week, the Vodafone Warriors would disappoint the death riders with another two tries in the 68th and 73rd minutes to put the contest to bed.
Fisiiahi was the first to prosper, intercepting a Norman pass to go 40 metres to score. With Johnson again converting, the Vodafone Warriors had inflicted a record Brisbane didnt want; theyd become the first side in history to put 50 on the Broncos in Queensland.
They werent done with, engineering another dazzling try as the ball was spread to the extreme left, Nielsen dropping off to Vatuvei cutting inside. He pushed a sweet ball to Mateo who put Locke through for his first try of the year.
Johnson again converted having slotted eight straight for 16 points after missing his first three.
It was the first time in 20 matches that the Vodafone Warriors had scored 30 points or more in a game, the first time theyd totalled 50-plus since 2007 and their highest points tally since beating South Sydney 66-0 in 2006. It was the 10th instance of the Vodafone Warriors tallying a half century in a game.
All sorts of other statistics made compelling reading. Overall the Vodafone Warriors made 1536 metres (Brisbane only 932), were 12-3 ahead in line breaks, had the offload count 21-4 and the line break assists 10-2.
Individually six players made 100 metres plus, Vatuvei with 175, Jacob Lillyman 159 in his milestone 150th match, Locke 152, Ben Matulino 123, Fisiiahi 107 and Sam Rapira 100.
Mateo was again imperious with three try assists, six tackle breaks, four offloads and a telling involvement in so much of the play. He was named the Fox Sports man of the match. Vatuvei was also influential with his high work rate, two tries, a try assist, eight tackle breaks, two offloads and two line breaks.
With their first back-to-back wins since last July, the Vodafone Warriors have a four wins-eight losses record after 12 matches, remaining in 14th position on eight points.
Their next assignment is against Manly at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday (4.00pm kick-off).
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At Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Brisbane Broncos 18 (Josh Hoffman, Alex Glenn, Scott Prince tries; Scott Prince 2 conversions, penalty).
Vodafone Warriors 56 (Manu Vatuvei 2, Glen Fisiiahi 2, Konrad Hurrell 2, Thomas Leuluai 2, Russell Packer, Kevin Locke tries; Shaun Johnson 7 conversions, penalty).
Halftime: 26-8 Vodafone Warriors.
Referees: Ben Cummins and Brett Suttor.
Crowd: 21,259.Match details:
Vodafone Warriors: Kevin Locke; Glen Fisiiahi, Konrad Hurrell, Dane Nielsen, Manu Vatuvei; Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson; Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Russell Packer; Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c); Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Dominique Peyroux.
NEXT GAME | Vodafone Warriors v Sea Eagles
Sunday 9 June 2013 4:00pm
Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
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