The Vodafone Warriors produced an astonishing 72-point turnaround in the space of a week as they surged into outright third on the ladder with a 28-0 shutout of Wyong in Saturday’s 14th-round New South Wales Cup clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
Last Saturday a depleted line-up was trounced 52-8 by Canterbury-Bankstown, the Vodafone Warriors’ first home defeat of the season, albeit on Mount Smart’s No 2 ground.
Back on the stadium’s main arena the home side was able to draw on more experience for the encounter with the Roos, welcoming back regular captain John Palavi and centre Matt Allwood from ankle injuries.
Also returning from time with NRL squad were hooker Siliva Havili and back rower Dominique Peyroux; Havili had played in the club’s last two matches against Newcastle and South Sydney while Peyroux was 18th man for the NRL squad against the Rabbitohs last week.
The changes had an expected and immediate effect as the Vodafone Warriors settled into their work swiftly, gaining good field position and creating pressure regularly.
It paid dividends with cleverly worked back-to-back tries from close range for powerful front rower Daniel Palavi.
He was in the NYC premiership-winning Vodafone Junior Warriors side in 2010 but generally exists on a diet of club football in Auckland; indeed this was only his fifth appearance for the NSW Cup side over the last two seasons.
He hadn’t scored a try in any of his previous four outings but came up with an impressive double strike to put the Vodafone Warriors on track with an early 12-0 lead. By halftime it was 18-0 through a Peyroux try, all three tries being converted by Mason Lino.
Facing a Wyong side including ex-Vodafone Junior Warriors Omar Slaimankhel and Abraham Papalii, the Vodafone Warriors put together a quality first 40 minutes, not least with their defensive efficiency and execution.
The tone continued in the second half, Peyroux sending left wing Viliami Kaveinga over for his fourth try of the season before Fusitu’a finished off the scoring to extend his impressive record; it was his sixth try in five games this season.
By the time Fusitu’a scored and certainly in the final minutes of the contest there was only one priority for coach Stacey Jones and the team – to keep a clean sheet.
Any sort of win after such a heavy loss a week earlier would have been rewarding enough but keeping Wyong scoreless was the most pleasing feature.
The result leaves the Vodafone Warriors alone in third on 18 points with an 8-5 record, just a point behind the Mounties and four behind competition leader Penrith.
Since their first bye last month, the Vodafone Warriors have had two wins and a loss as they now head into their second bye. They’re back at home for a tough test against the Mounties on June 27 only to have another bye after that.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 28 (Daniel Palavi 2, Dominique Peyroux, Viliami Kaveinga, David Fusitu'a tries; Mason Lino 4 goals).
Wyong Roos 0.
Halftime: 18-0 Vodafone Warriors.
Referee: Shane Rehm.
Vodafone Warriors: Sam Cook; Paul Ulberg, David Fusitu’a, Matt Allwood, Viliami Kaveinga; Api Pewhairangi, Mason Lino; Daniel Palavi, Siliva Havili, Nathaniel Peteru; John Palavi (c), Dominique Peyroux; David Bhana. Interchange: James Bell, Kouma Samson, Paul Tuli, Zac Tippins.