The result – a 42-14 score-line – wasn’t important but the Vodafone Warriors came out of their final preseason hit-out with plenty of positives from their clash against the club’s New South Wales Cup combination in Papakura today.
Most importantly there were no injury concerns to emerge from the team-mate v team-mate exercise.
Pleasingly, too, captain Simon Mannering, centre Konrad Hurrell and prop Jacob Lillyman came through their first outings of the preseason campaign with no issues; Hurrell scored two tries, Mannering one himself and Lillyman clocked up some much-needed time in the middle in bhis return from an offseason knee operation.
The trial, played in front of a crowd of about 2000, was run over an hour, broken into three periods of 20 minutes.
Ultimately the NRL combination ran away with the hit-out on the points-scoring front but it didn’t shape that way early on when the New South Wales Cup line-up opened the scoring, new centre Jonathan Wright racing onto a grubber.
Indeed it took some time for the top side to settle into some sort of rhythm before finally striking through a proven force as Manu Vatuvei was released on the left edge.
Soon after the Vodafone Warriors went to a similarly potent weapon on the right edge as Hurrell stormed over in his first outing since offseason wrist surgery.
The second period changed the complexion of the exercise completely as the NRL side ran in five tries through Sam Tomkins, Nathan Friend, Solomone Kata, Hurrell again and Mannering (also having his first run of the preseason campaign).
If the tries flowed in that period the other dominant feature of the trial was provided by NRL referees Adam Devcich and Gavin Reynolds. There was a solid flow of penalties as they gave the players another taste of the new law interpretations; as was the case in Rotorua last week, there were a lot of penalties for offences in the tackle (although not quite as many as there were against Penrith).
With the score-line reading 38-4 after 40 minutes the tone of the hit-out changed yet again, more so when head coach Andrew McFadden requested goal-line dropouts so the NRL side could do some extra shifts defending inside their red zone.
The Vodafone Warriors conceded two tries in that period but finished off the scoring with a little bit of Shaun Johnson magic.
McFadden said he was well pleased with the exercise and also with the value of bringing the team out to the heartland, the first time the Vodafone Warriors have played on a suburban ground. This was a real grass roots day for the club.
Match details | Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura
Vodafone Warriors (NRL) 42 (Konrad Hurrell 2, Manu Vatuvei, Sam Tomkins, Nathan Friend, Solomone Kata, Simon Mannering, Shaun Johnson tries; Shaun Johnson 5 conversions).
Vodafone Warriors (NSW Cup) 14 (Jonathan Wright, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Nathaniel Peteru tries; Api Pewhairangi conversion).
First Third: 10-4 NRL.
Second Third: 38-4 NRL.
Referees: Adam Devcich and Gavin Reynolds.