As the Vodafone Warriors have done with their NRL form revival, so have the Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup.
Their 38-10 win against Manly at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday was not only their biggest of the season so far but also gave them three victories on end for the first time this year.
It signalled the Vulcans have, like their NRL counterparts, found their best form since 2011 when they reached their maiden grand final.
The Vodafone Warriors and the Vulcans were both at a low ebb on May 18. Earlier that afternoon the Vulcans lost 30-38 to lowly Canterbury-Bankstown and were at Centrebet Stadium a few hours later to witness the Vodafone Warriors falling to a club record 6-62 loss to Penrith. That night has turned out to be a defining moment for the Vodafone Warriors and by coincidence the Vulcans have also hit back since that weekend.
The defeat by the Bulldogs was their third on end after earlier losing 10-48 to Cronulla and 24-28 to Wyong. However, such adversity proved to be the base from which they Vulcans mounted a recovery operation by beating Newcastle 28-24, Illawarra 36-10 and now the Sea Eagles 38-10 in the following three weeks.
Sundays effort avenged a season-opening loss to Manly and enabled them to climb another spot to sixth on the ladder with 15 points. Four points ahead of them in fourth spot are the Windsor Wolves, the Vulcans next opponents on Saturday night.
Several Vodafone Warriors NRL players were influential in the win against the Sea Eagles, none more so than standoff Pita Godinet and halfback Harry Siejka.
Sidelined with injury last week, Godinet was given the chance for some serious game time when he returned to the Vulcans. He made the most of it, too.
The towering Sam Lousi, making his comeback from a long injury lay-off, made an immediate impact when he poked through the Manly defensive line, popping a perfect offload for Godinet to score. Soon after Godinet had his second try of the day after a nice tip-on play from the forwards close to Manlys line.
Later Siejka sighted a chink in Manlys defence, floored it and sped through the hole on an angled 30-metre run for his first try. His second late in the match was a classic show and go effort which completely bamboozled Manlys would-be defenders.
Vodafone Warriors hooker Alehana Mara drove over from close range for a first half try and experienced NRL winger Bill Tupou scored an unlikely try early in the second spell. With multiple defenders on top of him close to the sideline it had seemed inevitable he would be taken into touch; instead Tupou wriggled his way out of their grasp, spinning to get the ball down.
Only one of the Vulcans seven tries wasnt scored by a Vodafone Warrior although one of the clubs NRL players centre Carlos Tuimavave created it, breaching the defence and flicking a pass out over the top for Tangi Ropati to score. Siejka kicked five of seven conversion attempts to finish with 18 points.
There were some disruptions in the lead-up with the Vulcans being forced to replace winger Ngani Laumape and second rower John Palavi who were both called up to join the Vodafone Warriors NRL squad.
The match also provided Jerome Ropati with the chance to find his way back to form after a few weeks sidelined with a hamstring injury.
At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Auckland Vulcans 38 (Pita Godinet 2, Harry Siejka 2, Alehana Mara, Bill Tupou, Tangi Ropati tries; Harry Siejka 5 conversions).
Manly Sea Eagles 10 (Jackson Williams, Dominic Nasso tries; Dane Chisholm conversion).
Referee: Daniel Caddy.
Vulcans: Steve Waetford; Bill Tupou, Jerome Ropati, Carlos Tuimavave, Tangi Ropati; Pita Godinet, Harry Siejka; Charlie Gubb, Alehana Mara, Daniel Palavi; Aganatius Paasi, Sam Lousi; Murray Iti. Interchange: Siliva Havili, Herman Retzlaff, Nathaniel Peteru, Patrick Sipley.