Tuimoala Lolohea makes his return from injury in one of four changes to the Vodafone Warriors’ side for their 20th-round New South Wales Cup encounter with Manly at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday (11.40am kick-off; match day sponsor: Suzuki).
The match is the first leg of the club’s tripleheader programme against the Sea Eagles followed by the NYC fixture at 1.45pm and the NRL blockbuster between the seventh-placed Vodafone Warriors and top-of-the-table Manly at 4.00pm.
Halfback Tuimoala was sidelined with a hamstring injury for the New South Wales Cup side’s wins against Wentworthville and Wyong. On Sunday he’ll be reunited with standoff Carlos Tuimavave replacing Sam Cook.
In the other changes Solomone Kata is named to start in the centres while winger David Fusitu’a and front rower Agnatius Paasi have been added after appearing for the club’s NRL side against Brisbane last Saturday.
Kata replaces fellow Vodafone Junior Warrior Ken Maumalo whose New South Wales Cup debut began impressively before an unscheduled early finish; he made 106 metres from 13 runs but his outing ended when he was ordered off after 33 minutes for lifting his knee in what turned out to be his last carry of the game. He has been suspended for one match.
The hard-earned 6-4 win against Wyong last Sunday lifted the Vodafone Warriors to 25 points. Boasting the best defensive record in the competition, they’re fifth just one point behind Illawarra (third) and Wests Tigers (fourth).
They needed their full defensive powers to eke out victory against Wyong.
With prop Charlie-Paul Gubb in the sin bin for 10 minutes, as well as Maumalo being ordered off, the Vodafone Warriors played almost 60 minutes with just 12 players.
Their numbers were outstanding. They made 319 tackles, missing only 22 and coming up with just 12 ineffective tackles while the Roos made 407, missed 34 and had 32 ineffective tackles. They also dominated metres gained with 1781 to 1418 and made just nine errors compared to Wyong’s 16.
The top individual tacklers were Raymond Faitala-Mariner with 41, Cook 34, Siliva Havili 30 and Gubb 27.
A total of 10 players gained 100 metres or more – Steve Waetford (186), Dominique Peyroux (161), John Palavi (141), Gubb (129), Tuimavave (128), David Bhana (124), Jarrod Tua (112), Sam Lousi (109), Maumalo (106) and Ngataua Hukatai 100.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v MANLY SEA EAGLES
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
11.40am, Sunday, July 27
1 STEVE WAETFORD (c)
2 NGATAUA HUKATAI
3 SOLOMONE KATA
4 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
5 DAVID FUSITU’A
6 CARLOS TUIMAVAVE
7 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
8 AGNATIUS PAASI
9 SILIVA HAVILI
10 CHARLIE-PAUL GUBB
11 SIONE LOUSI
12 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
13 JOHN PALAVI
14 MICHAEL SIO
15 ALBERT VETE
16 UPU POCHING
17 DAVID BHANA
18 SAM LOUSI
20 ABRAHAM PAPALII
COACH: ROHAN SMITH