The Vodafone Warriors were unable to stem a Sydney Roosters onslaught in today's 24th-round NRL clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
After going to halftime 16-6 ahead the Roosters took total control of the contest in the opening 20 minutes of the second half going on to produce five more tries - and bombing another two - to surge to a 46-12 victory.
Between the 20th and 63rd minutes they scored six tries without response to break the match open, taking the score from 6-6 to 40-6 before the Vodafone Warriors came up with a consolation effort.
The overall complexion of the game was a world removed from what it promised to offer in the opening stanza.
The script didn’t go to plan for the home side in the opening minutes of the contest.
From an attacking set, the Vodafone Warriors pumped the ball high to their right edge on top of lanky winger Daniel Tupou. It had disastrous consequences in the end but not before some heroic defensive work by Shaun Johnson.
Tupou made light of the kick contest on his line, plucking the ball out of the air effortlessly and then dancing his way through a jagged defensive line. Into the clear he burst with the goal-line 80 metres away; he didn’t get there. In scenes reminiscent of his chase on Michael Jennings at Allianz Stadium last year, Johnson cut Tupou down spectacularly.
The crowd was still going crazy as the Roosters went wide to the right and created room against a shotr-manned defensive line for Aidan Guerra to lunged over. Upstairs it went for referral. On inspection it was found, as fans in the vicinity had seen, Guerra had failed to get the ball down; only closer inspection established Thomas Leuluai had used his right foot to dislodge the ball which led to a penalty try being awarded instead. With the conversion duly taken in front of the posts, James Maloney had the Roosters 6-0 ahead after three minutes.
The home side suffered a further setback with right winger David Fusitu’a leaving the field early with a dislocated shoulder, bringing about a reshuffle which saw Ngani Laumape move onto the right wing and Ben Henry going into the centres on the left edge.
Despite that the Vodafone Warriors were having a say in possession, building good pressure.
In the 10th minutes they stayed true to their game plan and put another high kick on top of Tupou. This time the contest was in synch, Tupou couldn’t defuse the kick, it went loose and Laumape tapped it back to fullback Sam Tomkins for his 11th try of the year. Johnson was on target and the game was all even.
The Roosters began to dictate the tempo, though, commanding a share of possession and position.
In the 20th minute Michael Jennings speared through too comfortably and 14 minutes later the Roosters were further ahead, finding the defence stretched as they profited from a spilled bomb. Shaun Kenny-Dowall wasn’t challenged to score and Maloney piloted the conversion for a 16-6 halftime lead.
They went on with it from the outset after halftime running in four tries with ease to Anthony Minichiello, Sam Moa, Isaac Liu and Boyd Cordner. Maloney converted each of them and the Roosters were making a mess of the Vodafone Warriors' plans to make this a special day in the club's history as they bolted to a 40-6 lead.
In the middle of it all the Vodafone Warriors were also under-staffed when they had Sebastine Ikahihifo sin-binned for 10 minuters for a professional foul.
While they came up with with Laumape's late try the Roosters finished as they started by adding an eighth try and a second for Jennings.
It was the gloomiest outcome possible on a day which delivered perfect weather in front of an initially expectant crowd of close to 20,000. It was also a huge letdown for Ben Matulino on a day when he was marking his 150th NRL appearance; he deserved a lot better.
The result completed a barren two weeks in which the club's NRL, NYC and New South Wales Cup sides have gone winless to lose ground in their finals campaigns.
Somehow, though, the Vodafone Warriors' NRL side must regroup this week (as must the other two teams).
Andrew McFadden's side still has two matches to go, two possible victories that would take it to 30 points and a chance at the finals.
First the players must rivet their attention on the Gold Coast Titans in their final home game of the season next Sunday, a day which doubles as old boys' day and a farewell to departing players.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 12 (Sam Tomkins, Ngani Laumape tries; Shaun Johnson 2 conversions).
Sydney Roosters 46 (Michael Jennings 2, Aidan Guerra*, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Anthony Minichiello, Sam Moa, Isaac Liu, Boyd Cordner tries; James Maloney 7 conversions).
* Penalty try awarded.
Halftime: 16-6 Roosters.
Referees: Shayne Hayne and Dave Munro.
Vodafone Warriors: Sam Tomkins; David Fusitu’a, Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape, Manu Vatuvei; Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson; Jacob Lillyman, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino; Ben Henry, Simon Mannering (c); Sebastine Ikahihifo. Interchange: Feleti Mateo, Suaia Matagi, Sione Lousi, Jayson Bukuya.