Ben Henry scored a try in his comeback appearance for the Vodafone Warriors New South Wales Cup side today.
A sluggish start ultimately cost the Vodafone Warriors their chance of celebrating their historic first New South Wales Cup outing with a memorable victory over Wentworthville at Belmore Sports Ground today.
If there was understandable disappointment a dazzling comeback wasn’t quite enough there was consolation the Vodafone Warriors delivered a significant ratio of the entertainment before losing 24-38, a score-line inflated by Wentworthville scoring twice in the final few minutes.
Earlier the Vodafone Warriors, playing in the competition under their own name for the first time, were left reeling as the home side hit the hot switch to score in the opening minute and then added two more tries inside the first 10 minutes to bolt to a 16-0 lead.
There may have been thoughts if not fears the Chris Sandow-inspired Magpies would run away with the contest, such was the manner in which they took to the Vodafone Warriors.
Instead the match was transformed into a rip-snorting season opener which could easily have gone either way in the end. Indeed heading into the final few minutes the Vodafone Warriors were pressing and looking for an opportunity to turn a two-point deficit – 24-26 – into a possible match-winning lead.
Wentworthville had the finishing touches, though, first a try through winger Bureta Faraimo with three minutes to go, Sandow converting to take his side out to an eight-point lead.
With so little time left it was unlikely the Vodafone Warriors would be able to find two tries to win and, right on fulltime, their chief tormentor Sandow added the final thrust when he ran off David Gower to score and convert.
The Vodafone Warriors had done remarkably well to be in the battle at all after the way the match started.
To their credit they found a way back into it.
Ben Henry, making his return from a long injury lay-off, had the distinction of scoring the first try for the Vodafone Warriors in their very first match in the competition. It was critical as it served to stem the flow of points.
Not long after second rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner pulled off something of a show and go to breach the line for a try and, at 10-16, the outlook was much healthier.
There were negatives just before and after halftime, though, as tries were yielded either side of the break enabling the Magpies to lead 26-10.
Here the fighting qualities emerged, not to mention plenty of quality football.
Figuring prominently through this period was centre Konrad Hurrell, turning up regularly to carry the ball forward with real effect up the middle of the park.
The rewards of his endeavours showed in the space of a couple of minutes when Agnatius Paasi showed his abilities on the edge by helping winger Jarrod Wilson to a double. Tuimoala Lolohea had a lot of difficult conversions on the day but he succeeded with one of two sideline efforts from Wilson’s tries to close in up to 20-26.
From being one-way fare for a long passage of the game the game was now poised delicately, even more so when Henry was heavily involved in a David Fusitua try, Fusitua doing the right thing by running the try around closer to the posts rather than scoring wide out. Unfortunately Lolohea couldn’t add the extras and it was a tantalising 24-26 with 14 minutes to play.
There was desperation from both sides on attach and defence as Wentworthville sought to extend its lead and the Vodafone Warriors hunted a go-ahead try.
Until the 77th minute it remained that way only for the Magpies to make the killer play.
The Vodafone Warriors will now prepare to play their next New South Wales Cup match on a much bigger stage in the first leg of next Saturday’s tripleheader at Eden Park ahead of the club’s NYC and NRL fixtures against St George Illawarra.
The New South Wales Cup game is at 12.40pm, the NYC contest at 2.45pm and the NRL match at 5.00pm.
At Belmore Sports Ground, Sydney
Wentworthville Magpies 38 (Ken Sio 2, Lorenzo Ma’afu 2, Daniel Alvaro, Bureta Faraimo, Chris Sandow tries; Chris Sandow 5 conversions).
Vodafone Warriors 24 (Jarrod Wilson 2, Ben Henry, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, David Fusitua tries; Tuimoala Lolohea 2 conversions).
Halftime: 22-10 Magpies.
Referee: Damian Briscoe.
Vodafone Warriors: Steve Waetford (c); David Fusitua, Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape, Jarrod Wilson; Ben Henry, Tuimoala Lolohea; Sam Lisone, Michael Sio, Charles P Gubb; Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Agnatius Paasi; Sebastine Ikahihifo. Interchange: Siliva Havili, Upu Poching, David Bhana, Abraham Papalii.