An outstanding opening seven minutes against Gold Coast has catapulted the Vodafone Warriors into their first appearance in the final at the Downer NRL Auckland Nines.
The home side didn’t let up from the get-go, surging to a 16-0 lead in their semi-final at Eden Park.
Fired up by a bristling carry from Konrad Hurrell in the opening moments and a Ryan Hoffman off load which went close to yielding a try soon after, the Vodafone Warriors were right on song.
When they won a penalty for a shoulder charge by ex-Vodafone Warrior Agnatius Paasi on Sam Lisone, it was the cue for a points-scoring assault.
First Tuimoala Lolohea probed and stretched the defensive line before finding Jeff Robson in support for his second try of the tournament.
Moments later 6-0 became 10-0 when Jonathan Wright poached a Matt Srama pass to run away to score and in the seventh minute Solomone Kata ran onto a sweet pass from Robson, exploding 50 metres to score near the posts. Robson converted for a 16-0 lead.
In the final stages of the term the Titans made amends with a Paasi try which gave them some hope of grinding their way back into it.
When Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was taken into touch covering a kick, Gold Coast had a sniff of hitting the Vodafone Warriors with a follow-up try but were immediately denied with great defence shunting them into touch on the very next play.
The Vodafone Warriors maintained the rage putting pressure on the Titans and then nailed their place in the final close to fulltime when Johnson skipped out and put Tuimoala Lolohea through for a try he converted.
After losing in the semi-finals in the tournament’s first year and then being knocked out in the quarter-finals last time, the Vodafone Warriors have earned the right to win their first title at first-grade level but they have the toughest preparation.
Their opponents the Parramatta Eels played the early semi-final giving them precious extra time to recover.
Vodafone Warriors 22 (Jeff Robson, Jonathan Wright, Solomone Kata, Tuimoala Lolohea tries; Jeff Robson 2 conversions; Shaun Johnson conversion).
Gold Coast Titans 4 (Aganatius Paasi try).
Halftime: 16-4 Vodafone Warriors.