NRL: Roosters 12, Vodafone Warriors 23

Two near-length-of-the-field second half tries to Glen Fisiiahi and Manu Vatuvei propelled the Vodafone Warriors to their fourth straight win via a 23-12 success against the third-placed Sydney Roosters 23-12 in Sunday night's key 14th-round NRL clash at Allianz Stadium.


With the eight points earned over the last month, the Vodafone Warriors have surged to 12 points, 11th on the table, and just four behind four teams filling fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth (Gold Coast, Cronulla, Canterbury-Bankstown and Canberra).


They're level with Newcastle (ninth) and Penrith (10th) knowing they'll move to 14 points with the first of their two byes next week.


The key to the success was again the Vodafone Warriors' defence. Not only have they won four weeks on end but they've also held all four opponents to 18 points or less each time.


Shaun Johnson chased down Michael Jennings spectacularly to stop a first half try and fullback Glen Fisiiahi astonishingly flicked the ball out of Shaun Kenny-Dowall's grasp when he was all but over the line and about to put the ball down in the 66th minute. It was a freakish try save, coming at a time when the game was on edge with the Vodafone Warriors leading 16-12..


Only in the last four minutes of the first half was their defensive line breached as Anthony Minichiello and Sonny Bill Williams scored to give the Roosters an unlikely and perhaps even an undeserved 12-10 lead.


But, fortified by the mindset and will shaped over recent weeks, the Vodafone Warriors didn't allow it to upset their approach.


Defence was again the hallmark in the early stages of the second half as the Vodafone Warriors repelled the Roosters time after time. The home side kept coming on the back of repeat sets earned from five goal-line drop-outs and errors only to be left frustrated.


The score remained 12-10 to the Roosters in the 58th minute when they went to the air to the Vodafone Warriors' right edge yet again.


The kick was off target, though. It went loose, Todd Lowrie snaffling it and swiftly off-loading to fullback Fisiiahi to pour into space using his lightning top-end speed. Away he scorched 90 metres downfield, no one able to come close to him as he scored next to the posts (his fifth try of the season).


Feleti Mateo standing in for Johnson converted and the Vodafone Warriors were 16-12 ahead, a critical advantage in tough battle.


There it stayed for another 12 minutes, not without some anxiety.


The Roosters pressed again, Kenny-Dowall aiming a grubber kick through the Vodafone Warriors' defensive line on their left edge. Instead the big man Manu Vatuvei blocked it, snatched the ball as it ricocheted with the try-line 92 metres away and a fair bit of traffic in the vicinity. However, as he did in Brisbane, he burned off the challengers for a stunning try his 111th in 162 matches although the run seemed to leave him with a tight hamstring.


Going into the last 10 minutes eight points clear, the Vodafone Warriors very nearly scored again through Ngani Laumape on a night when they also had would-be tries to Fisiiahi and Ben Matulino disallowed on referral.


Up 20-12 and in sight of another well-earned success, there was time left for Johnson to nudge over a penalty from close range and finally a field goal as well to seal the deal.


It gave the Vodafone Warriors their second consecutive away win after they'd gone almost a year without winning on the road. It was also the first time they'd won four games on end since their grand final charge in 2011, improving their record to six wins and eight losses after 14 matches.


With a sound completion rate provisionally 29 from 38 sets the Vodafone Warriors came out of the contest with heroes thick on the ground. Loose forward Elijah Taylor was again superb, far more prominent with the ball than he has been as he made 122 metres from 15 runs, opening the scoring when he ran into a hole splendidly off a slick set piece move.


Vatuvei made almost 200 metres from 11 runs, Laumape 180 from 17 carries, Fisiiahi close to 150 and centre Konrad Hurrell 131. Props Ben Matulino (148) and Sam Rapira (101) also topped 100 metres while hooker Nathan Friend produced a game-high 50 tackles.


While he wouldn't have been concerned about personal glory, it was a special victory for head coach Matthew Elliott, who was having his 250th outing in charge of an NRL side. It was some performance to mark the occasion.


The Vodafone Warriors next game is against Brisbane at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday, June 30 (4.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Herald on Sunday). Theyve had four wins in five starts at the ground this year, beating North Queensland, South Sydney, Gold Coast, Newcastle and Manly with the only loss by two points to South Sydney in April.


The team returns home on Monday afternoon, due to arrive at Auckland Airport at 2.40pm. The players will have some time off this week before resuming training later in the week.


CLICK HERE TO PRE-PURCHASE TICKETS FOR THE JUNE 30 CLASH AGAINST BRISBANE


Match details:

At Allianz Stadium, Randwick

Sydney Roosters 12 (Anthony Minichiello, Sonny Bill Williams tries; James Maloney 2 conversions).

Vodafone Warriors 23 (Elijah Taylor, Ngani Laumape, Glen Fisiiahi, Manu Vatuvei tries; Feleti Mateo 2 conversions; Shaun Johnson penalty, field goal).

Halftime: 12-10 Roosters.

Referees: Ashley Klein and Chris James.


Vodafone Warriors: Glen Fisiiahi; Ngani Laumape, 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, Dominique Peyroux, Todd Lowrie.