Vodafone Warriors sides delivered not just one but two performances of the highest quality at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
While the club’s NRL team produced a stunning display in blitzing Parramatta 48-0, the tone was set in the main curtain-raiser when the Vodafone Warriors’ New South Wales Cup side rolled the second-placed Wentworthville Magpies 30-6.
This, like the NRL effort to follow, was equally deserving of being described as the side’s best of the season so far.
The quality of the performance was even more pronounced give the challenges coach Rohan Smith and his staff face on a weekly basis with the make-up of the squad always changing. The side named at the start of every week rarely remains intact come game day.
Such was the case again for the Wentworthville encounter with Sam Lousi called up to play for the NRL side. Also missing was injured Tuimoala Lolohea.
Despite the disruptions, the Vodafone Warriors have tracked solidly throughout the NSW Cup season.
Their previous two outings had ended in close defeats to Wyong (8-12) and to competition leader Penrith (14-20), the latter when they appeared to have the contest under control.
The disappointments of those two matches were expunged as the Vodafone Warriors found their groove against Wentworthville.
They were polished from the outset, hitting their left edge twice with clinical effect in the opening 25 minutes.
First they went for a spread from well out on the right with fullback Steve Waetford shipping a lovely long ball for winger Jarrod Tua to score wide out, Solomone Kata piloting a superb conversion from the sideline for a 6-0 lead. It was Tua’s eight try in 11 matches.
For the second the Vodafone Warriors exploited the left again for Kata to surge across. He couldn’t convert this time but the home side was well worth the 10-0 lead.
It became 16-0 after 36 minutes when the Vodafone Warriors went to their right, Sam Cook onto Agnatius Paasi and then Dominique Peyroux who presented right winger Ngataua Hukatai with the opportunity to slide in for his third try in his fourth appearance for the side.
With a 16-point lead at the break it was fair to believe this had been the side’s best first half of the season, especially give the ranking of the opposition.
Their intention was to go on with it and they didn’t disappoint, the mercurial Kata snaring his second try 13 minutes into the second half (after some slick ball work from Michael Ki and Tua) and then his third in the 69th minute after another exchange with Tua. For the last try Kata reciprocated handing Tua his second try of the match and ninth of the season.
The only interruption to the flow was the Magpies’ solitary try to avoid a shutout, the only blemish on the Vodafone Warriors’ outstanding defensive effort.
The match was also a personal triumph for Sione Lousi who came through his injury comeback successfully.
The result has lifted the Vodafone Warriors to fifth spot on 23 points, just a point out of the top four.
After three consecutive matches at Mount Smart Stadium, they’re on the road next week when they face Wyong.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 30 (Solomone Kata 3, Jarrod Tua 2, Ngataua Hukatai tries; Solomone Kata 3 conversions).
Wentworthville Magpies 6 (Api Pewhairangi try; Ben Jones conversion).
Halftime: 16-0 Vodafone Warriors.
Referee: Jamal Thompson.
Vodafone Warriors: Steve Waetford (c); Ngataua Hukatai, Solomone Kata, Dominique Peyroux, Jarrod Tua; Carlos Tuimavave, Sam Cook; Albert Vete, Siliva Havili, Upu Poching; Michael Sio, Agnatius Paasi; John Palavi. Interchange: Sione Lousi, Michael Ki, David Bhana, Abraham Papalii.