They scored the first and last tries of the contest but the Vodafone Warriors lost a tight tussle 8-12 to the improved Wyong Roos in Saturday’s 15th-round New South Wales Cup match at Mount Smart Stadium.
The defeat was a real disappointment for the Vodafone Warriors in just their fifth match in Auckland so far this season.
They’d started the round in fourth spot with designs on consolidating their place behind the leading three sides.
They began well, too, putting together some sweet football to open proceedings when Siliva Havili darted out of dummy half to release Agnatius Paasi running off his right shoulder.
Paasi linked with Michael Sio who took the play inside the 20 where the Vodafone Warriors went to their left with Steve Waetford’s superb cut-out pass giving winger Ngataua Hukatai an easy passage for his second New South Wales Cup try.
While Tuimoala Lolohea couldn’t convert from wide out there was reason for optimism as the home side sought to build on its last-gasp win against the Cronulla Sharks in Gisborne.
Instead Wyong dug in for an all-out grind as it had when stopping the higher-ranked Mounties 14-6 a week earlier.
This battle would become a near replica as the Roos made inroads, profiting with two tries which came too easily near the posts from close range; the first was scored by Shaun Boss, the second by veteran former international Mark O’Meley as Wyong took a 12-4 lead into halftime.
In the opening minutes of the second half the Vodafone Warriors again made an early statement when Havili served it up to Waetford on a right-side play. Waetford ghosted across field, squeezed between two defenders and slipped a nice ball to Lolohea who juggled and then offloaded for centre Dominique Peyroux to score in the right-hand corner. Lolohea couldn’t land the conversion attempt but at 8-12 the Vodafone Warriors had every chance and no shortage of time to take out the match.
Instead the last 32 minutes were to remain scoreless, the Vodafone Warriors in no mood to concede any more points but Wyong similarly committed on its own line as it held on to its 12-8 lead.
After a week in the top four the Vodafone Warriors slipped to fifth, knocked down a place by Illawarra which beat the Mounties (former Vodafone Warrior Bill Tupou scoring four tries for defeated Mounties).
Peyroux was named the players’ player of the day for the second time this season.
The mission is stiffer still for the Vodafone Warriors when they clash with the top-placed Penrith Panthers at Mount Smart Stadium next Sunday.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 8 (Ngataua Hukatai, Dominique Peyroux tries).
Wyong Roos 12 (Shaun Boss, Mark O’Meley tries; Mark Kheirallah 2 conversions).
Halftime: 12-4 Wyong.
Referee: Aaron Donald.
Vodafone Warriors: Tuimoala Lolohea; Solomone Kata, Dominique Peyroux, Dane Nielsen, Ngataua Hukatai; Carlos Tuimavave, Steve Waetford (c); Upu Poching, Siliva Havili, Agnatius Paasi; Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Michael Ki; Michael Sio. Interchange: Sam Lousi, Albert Vete, Abraham Papalii, David Bhana.