While promotion of the #Mannering250 and #MtSmart250 angles has dominated the build-up, the critical focus is on the contest itself when the Vodafone Warriors host Gold Coast tomorrow (5.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: TNT).
The 17th-round match-up is of real significance for both clubs as they strive to stay in the top eight frame.
They both sit on 16 points two points off eighth spot, the Titans 10th on points for and against (-14) with the Vodafone Warriors 11th (-25).
The Vodafone Warriors have won three of their four matches since their first bye in round 12 and head into their second bye week after this match. The Titans are in the same cycle but have a win-loss-win-loss record since their first bye.
While the Vodafone Warriors are coming off a gripping 18-19 extra-time loss to the Sharks, the Titans were down 10-30 against Canberra last Sunday before scoring two tries in the last 10 minutes to limit the damage to 22-30.
Since the Titans arrived in the competition in 2007 following previous failed Gold Coast franchises, they’ve been one of the least successful of the Vodafone Warriors’ rivals.
In fact, the Vodafone Warriors enjoy a 61 per cent success rate against them winning 11 of 18 encounters; only against South Sydney do they enjoy greater success (62 per cent) although that record owes much to the earlier years when the Rabbitohs were perennial strugglers.
More recently the Vodafone Warriors have dominated the Titans home and away winning nine of the last 10 matches since 2011 although that one blemish was a disappointing 28-32 loss at Mount Smart Stadium on Anzac Day last year. Their record at Mount Smart isn’t overly convincing either with five wins in eight meetings.
Since dipping with back-to-back losses to Penrith and Canberra in May, the Vodafone Warriors have significantly improved not only their win-loss record from 4-7 to 7-8 but especially their defence. In the last four matches they have conceded only 61 points, an average of just 15.25 a game.
VICTORIES v GOLD COAST TITANS AT MOUNT SMART STADIUM
August 11, 2007 | Vodafone Warriors 30, Gold Coast 6
July 8, 2011 | Vodafone Warriors 22, Gold Coast 6
March 24, 2012 | Vodafone Warriors 26, Gold Coast 6
May 5, 2013 | Vodafone Warriors 25, Gold Coast 24
August 31, 2014 | Vodafone Warriors 42, Gold Coast 0
VODAFONE WARRIORS v GOLD COAST TITANS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
5.00pm, Saturday, July 2
Referees: Matt Cecchin and Chris James
1 DAVID FUSITU’A (Marist Saints)
2 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA (Marist Saints)
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD (Paddington Tigers)
4 SOLOMONE KATA (Howick Hornets)
5 KEN MAUMALO (Papatoetoe Panthers)
6 THOMAS LEULUAI (Papatoetoe Panthers)
7 SHAUN JOHNSON (Hibiscus Coast Raiders)
8 JACOB LILLYMAN (Richmond Tigers)
9 ISSAC LUKE (Hawera Hawks)
10 ALBERT VETE (Mangere East Hawks)
11 BODENE THOMPSON (Tauranga City Sharks)
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (Campbelltown Collegians) (c)
13 SIMON MANNERING (Te Aroha Eels)
14 NATHANIEL ROACHE (Mount Albert Lions)
15 SAM LISONE (Otara Scorpions)
16 BEN MATULINO (Te Aroha Eels)
17 CHARLIE GUBB (University Hunters)
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN
GOLD COAST TITANS
1 WILLIAM ZILLMAN (c)
2 ANTHONY DON
3 JOSH HOFFMAN
4 CHRIS McQUEEN
5 NENE MACDONALD
6 TYRONE ROBERTS
7 ASH TAYLOR
8 LUKE DOUGLAS
9 NATHAN PEATS
10 RYAN JAMES
11 ZEB TAIA
12 LEIVAHA PULU
13 GREG BIRD
14 EDDY PETTYBOURNE
15 RYAN SIMPKINS
16 AGNATIUS PAASI
17 NATHAN FRIEND (c)
COACH | NEIL HENRY
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 SIMON MANNERING | The pre-game talk all week has surrounded the #Mannering250 theme. Now it’s down to what the man himself does best, giving his team all he can, as he does each and every time he turns out for the Vodafone Warriors. Consistency personified.
#2 MOUNT SMART STADIUM | It’s also a special day for the grand old lady, hosting a Vodafone Warriors first-grade game for the 250th time. Now in its 22nd season as the club’s home, Mount Smart Stadium is the dual centre of attention on a day of celebration.
#3 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA | With his fellow Marist Saints junior David Fusitu’a performing outstandingly at fullback, Lolohea reverts to the wing where he started the first six games of the season. Renews his partnership with Blake Ayshford on the right edge.
#4 BLAKE AYSHFORD | Ayshford is one of only three players who have appeared in every game so far this season. Tuimoala Lolohea is his fourth wing partner in three games after working with David Fusitu’a, Nathaniel Roache and Jonathan Wright.
#5 BODENE THOMPSON | Thompson picked up the player of the day award from his team-mates and coaching staff for his display against the Sharks after delivering plenty of punch with the ball (119 metres and six tackles) plus 47 tackles.
TOP STATS | v CRONULLA SHARKS | LOST 18-19
Penalties | Vodafone Warriors 10, Cronulla 8.
Completions | Vodafone Warriors 36/44 (82%), Cronulla 36/43 (84%).
Total runs | Vodafone Warriors 205, Cronulla 193.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors 1763, Cronulla 1744.
Line breaks | Vodafone Warriors 4, Cronulla 4.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors 30, Cronulla 33.
Kicks (kicking metres) | Vodafone Warriors 24 (638), Cronulla 24 (546).
Tackles Made | Vodafone Warriors 352, Cronulla 376.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors 33, Cronulla 30.
Offloads | Vodafone Warriors 13, Cronulla 12.
Errors | Vodafone Warriors 10, Cronulla 6.
Runs | Vodafone Warriors: Ken Maumalo 25, David Fusitu’a 18, Ben Matulino 18, Solomone Kata 14, Ryan Hoffman 14, Sam, Lisone 14, Blake Ayshford 13, Albert Vete 13, Shaun Johnson 12, Simon Mannering 11, Jonathan Wright 11, Bodene Thompson 10, Issac Luke 10. Cronulla: Andrew Fifita 20, Paul Gallen 19, Gerard Beale 18, Jack Bird 17, Luke Lewis 15, Wade Graham 14, Ricky Leutele 13, Chad Townsend 10, Sam Tagataese 10, Jayson Bukuya 10.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors: Ken Maumalo 197, Ben Matulino 168, David Fusitu’a 155, Blake Ayshford 135, Solomone Kata 123, Ryan Hoffman 119, Bodene Thompson 118, Shaun Johnson 113, Albert Vete 109, Issac Luke 100. Cronulla: Paul Gallen 199, Andrew Fifita 187, Luke Lewis 142, Gerard Beale 181, Jack Bird 125, Ricky Leutele 112, Wade Graham 102.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors: Bodene Thompson 6, Shaun Johnson 5, Sam Lisone 3, Blake Ayshford 3, David Fusitu’a 3. Cronulla: Andrew Fifita 6, Ricky Leutele 5.
Off loads | Vodafone Warriors: Albert Vete 4, Ryan Hoffman 2, Tuimoala Lolohea 2, Sam Lisone 2. Cronulla: Andrew Fifita 6.
Tackles made | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 67, Bodene Thompson 47, Issac Luke 41, Ben Matulino 34, Ryan Hoffman 29, Albert Vete 26. Cronulla: Michael Ennis 49, Paul Gallen 39, Chad Townsend 38, Jayson Bukuya 38, Wade Graham 36, Luke Lewis 31, Matt Prior 29, Andrew Fifita 26.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors: Charlie Gubb 0, Ken Maumalo 0. Cronulla: Chad Townsend 0, Andrew Fifita 0, Sam Tagataese 0.
Supports | Vodafone Warriors: Thomas Leuluai 16, Simon Mannering 15, Shaun Johnson 13, Ken Maumalo 12, Solomone Kata 9, Sam Lisone 9. Cronulla: Chad Townsend 25, James Maloney 13, Wade Graham 8, Ben Barba 8.
Decoys | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 10, Ryan Hoffman 10, Bodene Thompson 8, Ben Matulino 7. Cronulla: Jayson Bukuya 6.
RECORD | v GOLD COAST TITANS
Overall Record | Played 18, Vodafone Warriors 11, Gold Coast 7.
At Mount Smart Stadium | Played 8, Vodafone Warriors 5, Gold Coast 3.
Last 10 Games (home and away) | Vodafone Warriors 9, Gold Coast 1.
Vodafone Warriors debuts | Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (#203), Blake Ayshford (#204), Jeff Robson (#205), Issac Luke (#206), Nathaniel Roache (#207) and James Gavet (#208) made their debuts for the Vodafone Warriors against Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on March 5 (Round 1).
Jazz Tevaga (#209) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Melbourne at Mount Smart Stadium on March 20 (Round 3).
Ligi Sao (#210) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Canterbury-Bankstown at Westpac Stadium on April 16 (Round 7).
Shaun Lane (#211) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against St George Illawarra at Mount Smart Stadium on May 1 (Round 9).
Toafofoa Sipley (#212) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against St George Illawarra at Mount Smart Stadium on May 1 (Round 9).
NRL debuts | Nathaniel Roache made his NRL debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on March 5 (Round 1).
Jazz Tevaga (#209) made his NRL debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Melbourne at Mount Smart Stadium on March 20 (Round 3).
Toafofoa Sipley (#212) made his NRL debut for the Vodafone Warriors against St George Illawarra at Mount Smart Stadium on May 1 (Round 9).
Most NRL appearances for Vodafone Warriors | Simon Mannering plays his 250th NRL game (Stacey Jones’ record is 261).
250 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Simon Mannering plays his 250th NRL game.
200 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Ben Matulino plays his 188th NRL game.
200 NRL games (overall) | Issac Luke plays his 203rd NRL game (his 15th for the Vodafone Warriors) after appearing in 188 matches for South Sydney.
150 NRL games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman plays his 160th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors (record for the most games for the club by an Australian player). It’s the 222nd in his career including 62 for North Queensland.
150 NRL games (overall) | Blake Ayshford plays his 140th NRL game (his 16th consecutive match for the Vodafone Warriors) after appearing in 104 for Wests Tigers and 20 for Cronulla.
50 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Sione Lousi played his 50th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors against St George Illawarra on May 1; Tuimoala Lolohea plays his 41st NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors; Solomone Kata plays his 39th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors.
150 NRL tries | Manu Vatuvei has scored 149 tries in 217 NRL appearances. Only 10 players in history have scored 150 tries in the competition. Vatuvei is 11th-equal on the all-time list, just behind the great Bob Fulton (147). The only current players ahead of him are Billy Slater (172 in 278 games) and Brett Stewart (163 in 233 games).
10 tries or more in a season | Manu Vatuvei has the all-time NRL record having scored 10 tries or more in 10 consecutive seasons from 2006-2015.
600 NRL points | Shaun Johnson has scored 650 points; Manu Vatuvei has scored 596 points.
500 NRL points | Issac Luke has scored 444 points.
50 NRL tries | Shaun Johnson has 53 tries; Blake Ayshford has 41 tries; Issac Luke has 39 tries; Jonathan Wright has 36 tries.
50 NRL games as NRL coach (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Andrew McFadden coaches the Vodafone Warriors for the 59th time. His record in 58 games is 26 wins, 32 losses.
250 games at Mount Smart Stadium | The Vodafone Warriors’ played their 250th game at Mount Smart Stadium last week (they have so far played 246 regular season games plus three home finals).
2000 tries in the NRL | 1972 (1995-2016)
BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $1.30, Gold Coast Titans $3.30
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 4.30pm (kick-off 5.00pm NZT), Saturday, July 2