Canterbury-Bankstown ended the Vodafone Warriors’ 2015 New South Wales Cup finals hopes by handing them a 33-20 loss in tonight’s elimination play-off at Jubilee Stadium.
There was nothing in the contest on the scoreboard until the 60-minute mark when the Bulldogs benefited from a sudden momentum shift scoring two tries and adding a field goal to leap to a match-winning 13-point lead with 12 minutes to play.
From that point on the Vodafone Warriors couldn’t find a way back into it, not helped by the loss of captain John Palavi after a heavy head clash with second rower Sione Lousi.
They’d imposed themselves in the early exchanges, earning repeat sets and looking composed before striking in the fifth minute.
It came as Lousi drifted across field on the last tackle before shipping the ball to right centre Matt Allwood who exploded, shoved off one defender and charged across. Halfback Mason Lino’s conversion from wide out was right on target.
The Vodafone Warriors were pushing for more points but turned over possession right on the Bulldogs’ line, left wing Jarrod McInally scooping up the loose ball and racing 100 metres for a spectacular try.
They added a second soon after when they out-smarted the Vodafone Warriors’ right edge defence to give McInally a simple run-in for his second try. Levi Dodd couldn’t convert leaving his side 10-6 ahead.
The Vodafone Warriors ensured the Bulldogs didn’t keep the roll going, Raymond Faitala-Mariner carrying strongly and Lino then dummying and spearing through for a great try he also converted to have his side leading 12-10 after 22 minutes.
The advantage didn’t last with accomplished halfback Jaline Graham breaching the Vodafone Warriors’ left edge and going all the way for a long-range try and a 16-12 lead.
The scoring wasn’t over for the half with the Vodafone Warriors executing impressively in the 37th minute, Lino measuring a perfect chip to the right where Ken Maumalo grabbed it and then shunted fullback Corey Thompson out of the way in the act of scoring. Lino’s conversion was just wide leaving the sides locked at 16-16 at the break.
The second half didn’t begin well as Canterbury-Bankstown dominated possession with four repeat sets at one point; the Vodafone Warriors defended superbly on the first three but couldn’t outlast their rivals the next set as they yielded a try to Dodd.
This was proving the ultimate tit-for-tat contest and the Vodafone Warriors were quick to respond.
They did so in classic fashion, too, with Lino pushing through the line and finding Faitala-Mariner on his right shoulder to go 20 metres to score. No conversion this time and it was 20-20.
Anything was possible then it seemed.
Suddenly, though, the you score-we score pattern was broken as the Bulldogs hit the Vodafone Warriors twice from long range, first through the dazzling New Zealand-born Graham and then Thompson to bolt into a 32-20 lead.
Now the Bulldogs had a firm hold on the contest even though there was still 15 minutes to go.
They added only a field goal to their tally but were able to control the encounter leaving the Vodafone Warriors to reflect on back-to-back finals defeats after finishing the regular season in fourth spot.
Match details | Jubilee Stadium
Vodafone Warriors 20 (Matt Allwood, Mason Lino, Ken Maumalo, Raymond Faitala-Mariner tries; Mason Lino 2 conversions).
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 33 (Jarrod McInally 2, Jaline Graham 2, Levi Dodd, Corey Thompson tries; Levi Dodd 2 conversions; Chase Stanley 2 conversions; Jaline Graham field goal).
Referee: Liam Nicholls.
Vodafone Warriors: Viliami Kaveinga; Ken Maumalo, Matt Allwood, Malo Solomona, Saula Solomona; Ata Hingano, Mason Lino; Sebastine Ikahihifo, David Bhana, Daniel Palavi; Sione Lousi, Raymond Faitala-Mariner; John Palavi (c). Interchange: James Bell, Upu Poching, Paki Afu, Tevita Latu.