A last-gasp victory for the second week running was just out of reach for the Vodafone Warriors when they were forced to settle for a 16-18 loss to Wests Tigers in their 17th-round Intrust Super Premiership clash at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday.
Last week a late Mason Lino field goal had broken a deadlock to hand the Vodafone Warriors a 15-14 win over North Sydney.
Fast forward seven days and they were just two points down with plenty of time – and openings – to find a winner but couldn’t find a way to carry it off against a gritty Tigers outfit.
After forward Wesley Lolo had opened the scoring for the Tigers, the Vodafone Warriors found their rhythm with two Lino-inspired tries.
He punched through an angled grubber which bounced wickedly for Josh Addo-Carr for right wing Tomas Aoake to collect for a try Lino couldn’t convert.
Not long after Lino had the touch right again as centre Jonathan Wright raced onto a perfectly-weighted kick. With Lino’s conversion the home side had a 10-6 lead but couldn’t build on it for want of execution.
Back came the Tigers in the 31st minute with the first of wing Addo-Carr’s two tries as he went long range to make it 10-10.
The Vodafone Warriors should have had the lead close to halftime when fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad burrowed over for a try he was certain he’d scored, as were team-mates in the vicinity at the time. Somehow referee Daniel Olford didn’t think so and the home side was denied a critical go-ahead try.
Instead the Tigers took a 12-10 lead into the break with a late penalty.
Just eight minutes after the break there was no denying the Vodafone Warriors as standoff Erin Clark stepped off his right, ran hard at the line and stretched out to plant the ball for a great try. Lino converted for a 16-12 lead.
It might have been the springboard to go on to a ninth win in 10 matches but instead the Tigers struck through Addo-Carr to grab an 18-16 lead.
Late in the contest Nicoll-Klokstad was seemingly try-bound again only to have the ball ripped from his grasp leaving the Vodafone Warriors ruing their second loss in three games.
They remain on 24 points but are now third behind Illawarra and the Mounties, who both had a bye this weekend. Next up they face the competition-leading Illawarra at Mount Smart Stadium #2 next Saturday.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 16 (Tomas Aoake, Jonathan Wright, Erin Clark tries; Mason Lino 2 conversions).
Wests Tigers 18 (Josh Addo-Carr 2, Wesley Lolo tries; Veiru Mapesone 2 conversions, penalty).
Halftime: 12-10 Tigers.
Referee: Daniel Olford.
Vodafone Warriors | Tomas Aoake; Viliami Kaveinga, Matt Allwood, Marata Niukore, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad; Mason Lino, Ata Hingano; James Gavet, Jazz Tevaga, Upu Poching; Ofahiki Ogden, Shaun Lane; John Palavi (c). Interchange: Jeff Robson, James Bell, Ali Lauitiiti, Patrick Sipley.