The Vodafone Warriors avenged two regular season defeats by beating the Mounties when it mattered most in today’s New South Wales Cup elimination final at Leichhardt Oval.
Earlier this season the Vodafone Warriors had been on the receiving end of heavy losses to the fifth-placed Mounties, beaten 42-22 at Eden Park and 42-4 just five weeks ago in Sydney.
The tone of today’s 36-28 win was a total contrast as the eighth-placed Vodafone Warriors surged to a 22-0 lead in almost as many minutes.
Hooker Siliva Havili opened the scoring when he drove across from dummy half before tries to centre Carlos Tuimavave, winger Tangi Ropati and another to Tuimavave had the Vodafone Warriors seemingly in control.
They were in position to push for more points but an error in the play the ball led to an anxious run-in to halftime as the Mounties struck with three tries to trail only 16-22 at the break.
There was no relenting this time, though, as the Vodafone Warriors regrouped at the break and settled back into their work after the resumption.
After a Chad Townsend penalty had taken them out to an eight-point advantage, tries to centre Michael Sio and winger Jarrod Tua had the Vodafone Warriors in charge 36-16.
They conceded two late tries but had done more than enough to advance to week two of the finals.
After needing a last-day regular season victory over North Sydney to make the top eight last Sunday, the Vodafone Warriors are now one of the last six sides left in the competition.
Match details | Leichhardt Oval, Balmain
Mounties 28 (Reece Robinson, Sami Sauimluma, Tevita Pagai, Kyle O’Donnell, Terry Campese tries; Terry Campese 4 conversions).
Vodafone Warriors 36 (Carlos Tuimavave 2, Siliva Havili, Tangi Ropati, Michael Sio, Jarrod Tua tries; Chad Townsend 5 conversions, penalty).
Halftime: 22-16 Vodafone Warriors.
Referee: Chris Treneman.
Vodafone Warriors: Steve Waetford (c); Tangi Ropati, Carlos Tuimavave, Michael Sio, Jarrod Tua; Chad Townsend, Sam Cook; Sam Lousi, Siliva Havili, Upu Poching; Raymond Faitala-Mariner, John Palavi; David Bhana. Interchange: Albert Vete, Abraham Papalii, Michael Ki, Daniel Palavi.