Despite a raft of line-up changes, the Vodafone Warriors produced an emphatic performance trouncing Cronulla 44-6 to secure their first win of the New South Wales Cup season at Remondis Stadium today.
They scored first, had their only blip of the day to fall 4-6 behind and then kept finding tries – eight of them in all – to win at their fourth attempt this year.
Coach Rohan Smith had to scramble to get a line-up together with the originally-named Carlos Tuimavave and Jarred Wilson ruled out while Sebastine Ikahihifo and Raymond Faitala-Mariner had both gone up to the NRL squad.
But despite all manner of changes the Vodafone Warriors put together easily their most cohesive display of the year so far.
They used both edges to score their three first half tries, first to Ngani Laumape – with help from Dominique Peyroux – on the right, then to the left where Tuimoala Lolohea combined on a short side for Jarrod Tua to score and back to the right for Laumape’s second.
The critical phase of the battle came immediately after halftime when the Vodafone Warriors struck twice in the first seven minutes of the spell.
David Fusitua produced one of those special finishes wingers are so well known for these days and Laumape, taking over the kicking role, nailed the goal from wide out. From the restart they rolled straight back at the Sharks, hooker Siliva Havili releasing Tuimoala Lolohea on a long break which very nearly finished in a try. When he was stopped just short, Havili slotted in at dummy half sensing an opportunity to score, which is just what he did. Laumape converted again and now the game was heading just one way with the Vodafone Warriors leaping out to a 26-6 lead.
There was real slickness in the Vodafone Warriors’ work with the ball. They were direct, too. On defence they hunted and kept denying the Sharks the slightest opportunity.
Three more tries came in the last 20 minutes, fullback Steve Waetford scoring from another sweet play to the right and then the forwards having a bit of fun as John Palavi and Sam Lisone both scored. Laumape kicked five from five and the Vodafone Warriors were definitely in business for the season.
Havili excelled with his variations out of dummy half, igniting the forwards in a dominant display.
The result is set to push the Vodafone Warriors into the top eight as they now head home to prepare for next Sunday’s clash against Canterbury-Bankstown at Eden Park.
At Remondis Stadium, Cronulla
Cronulla Sharks 6 (Kurt Mann try; Ben Roberts conversion).
Vodafone Warriors 44 (Ngani Laumape 2, Jarrod Tua, David Fusitua, Siliva Havili, Steve Waetford, Sam Lisone, John Palavi tries; Ngani Laumape 5 conversions; Tuimoala Lolohea conversion).
Halftime: 14-6 Vodafone Warriors.
Referee: Daniel Olford.
Vodafone Warriors: Steve Waetford (c); Ngani Laumape, Jarrod Tua, Dominique Peyroux, David Fusitua; Jonathan Carl, Tuimoala Lolohea; Charles P Gubb, Siliva Havili, Upu Poching; John Palavi, Michael Sio; David Bhana. Interchange: Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Nathaniel Peteru, Herman Retzlaff.