Six days ago the Vodafone Warriors were left to rue a 36-point New South Wales Cup defeat but they were celebrating a 12-point victory after accounting for Wests Tigers 28-16 at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday.
The result not only bumped them back up the table to fourth spot but it also put their points for and against differential back in credit after they fell to eighth following a 6-42 loss to Wyong last week.
With long-time NRL front rower Sam Rapira starting this week, the Vodafone Warriors didn’t want for go-forward. Also back in the line-up was experienced NRL forward Sione Lousi.
Looking to rebound from their disappointment against Wyong, the Vodafone Warriors suffered an early setback when Tigers fullback Shannon McDonnell fed off the scraps from a bomb, pouncing on the loose ball just centimetres inside the dead-ball line.
The Vodafone Warriors weren’t deterred, though, settling into their work and going 6-4 ahead when the prolific Api Pewhairangi dummied and broke through for his sixth try in as many games.
The lead became 10-4 when standoff Sam Cook pushed through a deft grubber for centre David Fusitu’a to score in his first match back from shoulder surgery and close to halftime David Bhana sneaked over from dummy half to get the ball down near the right-hand upright. With Pewhairangi’s conversion the Vodafone Warriors were deservedly 16-4 ahead.
They were slow out of the blocks in the second spell, though, with wing Delouise Hoeter given space on the edge to score. With Josh Drinkwater converting the lead was down to six points.
The Vodafone Warriors responded perfectly, though, by creating tries on either flank, first left wing Jarrod Tua was handed a free passage for his third try of the season and a few minutes later they hit the right where fullback Viliami Kaveinga grabbed the opportunity expertly when he squeezed in just before going into touch. Pewhairangi converted both tries superbly from wide out and the Vodafone Warriors held a healthy 28-10 lead.
While the Tigers were able to score a third try the Vodafone Warriors weren’t going to be denied their fourth win of the season. They’re one of three sides on eight points, four behind the unbeaten Mounties.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 28 (Api Pewhairangi, David Fusitu’a, David Bhana, Jarrod Tua, Viliami Kaveinga tries; Api Pewhairangi 4 conversions).
Wests Tigers 16 (Kurtis Rowe, Delouise Hoeter, Brenden Santi tries; Josh Drinkwater 2 conversions).
Halftime: 16-4 Vodafone Warriors.
Referee: Shane Rehm.
Vodafone Warriors: Viliami Kaveinga; Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu’a, Matt Allwood, Jarrod Tua; Api Pewhairangi, Sam Cook; Suaia Matagi, Siliva Havili, Sam Rapira; Raymond Faitala-Mariner, John Palavi (c); Sione Lousi. Interchange: Charlie Gubb, David Bhana, Nathaniel Peteru, James Bell.