The Vodafone Warriors have beaten Canberra 16-8 to book their spot in the Downer NRL Auckland Nines semi-finals.
In their most consistent display of the tournament so far, the home side scored four tries to lead 16-0 before the Raiders twice crossed late in the contest.
There were some nerves from the kick-off when the Vodafone Warriors had to scramble the ball dead as it was allowed to bounce about precariously near their line but they cleverly regained possession from a smart goal-line dropout.
When Ken Maumalo won a play-the-ball penalty soon after, the Vodafone Warriors tapped quickly and were awarded a second consecutive penalty. The repeat sets were too much for the Raiders, Charlie Gubb carrying strongly towards the posts, the ball quickly shifted to the right where Shaun Johnson got on the outside and threw a fantastic long cut-out ball for Jonathan Wright to score.
From the restart set Canberra knocked on, the Vodafone Warriors releasing Blake Ayshford on a long break down the left. When he was stopped just short, the ball again went right and this time long to the ever-dangerous Solomone Kata for his third try of the tournament.
After seven minutes it was 8-0 and it soon became 12-0 when the Vodafone Warriors regained the ball from the restart. This time Ryan Hoffman was only just stopped, played the ball quickly and Johnson put Kata over for his second of the game. He was knocked over close to the line but scrambled across to leave his side well-placed at halftime.
Back to back penalties early in the second half put the Vodafone Warriors in prime position again, giving Hoffman the opportunity to push through a grubber. It bounced wildly and Henare seized on the chance for his second try of the tournament.
At 16-0 with seven minutes to play the Vodafone Warriors were in control and, while they conceded two tries in the last three minutes, they had put together their best overall display courtesy of their strong start.
The victory set up a challenging semi-final against an impressive Gold Coast side (5.05pm). After losing their opening match to Cronulla yesterday, the Titans had convincing wins against Canberra and St George Illawarra to top their pool and then eliminated Manly 24-4 in their quarter-final.
Vodafone Warriors 16 (Solomone Kata 2, Jonathan Wright, Henare Wells tries).
Canberra Raiders 8 (Zac Santo, Jordan Rapana tries).
Halftime: 12-0 Vodafone Warriors.