Matt Allwood’s 67th-minute try and a late Mason Lino field goal earned the Vodafone Warriors a 21-14 win over Penrith at Mount Smart Stadium today to take them through to the second week of the Intrust Super Premiership finals.
After leading 14-0 approaching halftime the Vodafone Warriors then allowed the Panthers to come back with two converted tries and a penalty to level up at 14-14 midway through the second half.
With rain arriving in the second spell, the Vodafone Warriors held their nerve on a greasy surface to eke out the result they needed to take them through to another sudden-death outing in week two of the playoffs against Newtown next week (the fourth-ranked Jets went down 12-30 to the Mounties yesterday).
The result snapped a run of five straight ISP defeats stretching back to a 24-22 win over Manly on July 17 while it was the first for any of the club’s three teams since the NRL side beat Gold Coast in Robina on August 7 (in the last three rounds the best result had been a 24-24 NYC draw with Wests Tigers last week).
The Stacey Jones-coached Vodafone Warriors made a hot start against Penrith today, fullback Henare Wells with a double inside the first 10 minutes.
The first came after just three minutes, Lino running it on the last down the short side on the right. He shifted wide, wing Allwood nudging a kick ahead. It cannon-balled about, wasn’t covered by the Panthers and Wells swept through to force the ball centimetres inside the dead ball line for his fifth try of the season.
Wells’ second try in the 10th minute had the lead out to 8-0 before the Vodafone Warriors put on a slick set play in the 28th minute. Going to their left they had bodies in motion, the ball finding prop James Gavet who powered up carving through the heart of Penrith’s defence and stretching out to plant the ball for a try Lino converted.
At 14-0 the Vodafone Warriors were in seemingly healthy shape but an untidy passage leading up to halftime was costly.
In the 40th minute a last tackle kick bounced wickedly in the Vodafone Warriors’ in-goal area, sitting up perfectly for left wing Chris Aunese-Scanlon to snare for his side’s first try of the day. Zach Dockar-Clay, who kicked six from six for Penrith at Mount Smart last week, nailed the wide-out conversion to leave the sides eight points apart at 6-14.
The Vodafone Warriors had conceded some of their hard-won advantage and then, straight after halftime the Panthers went in again, prop Moses Leota driving towards the line. He offloaded to his right, the ball coming off John Palavi’s back and straight into interchange forward Antonio Palesasa’s hands for a try with more than an element of luck about it.
With Dockar-Clay’s conversion and then a 61st-minute penalty, the contest was right on edge at 14-14.
The Vodafone Warriors stayed patient, worked for field position and the pay-off came in the 67th minute, Lino using some footwork, getting a basketball-styled pass away over the top and Allwood coming back on the angle to score. Lino piloted the conversion for a 20-14 lead with 12 minutes to play.
There were a couple of alarms as the Vodafone Warriors turned possession over but they were resolute on defence, forced two goal-line dropouts and then sealed the result with a Lino field goal in the final minute.
Details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 21 (Henare Wells 2, James Gavet, Matt Allwood tries; Mason Lino 2 conversions, field goal).
Penrith Panthers 14 (Chris Aunese-Scanlon, Antonio Palesasa tries; Zach Dockar-Clay 2 conversions, penalty).
Halftime: 14-6 Vodafone Warriors.
Vodafone Warriors | Henare Wells; Viliami Kaveinga, George Carmont, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Matt Allwood; Ata Hingano, Mason Lino (c); James Gavet, Erin Clark, Upu Poching; John Palavi, Shaun Lane; James Bell. Interchange: Toafofoa Sipley, Ligi Sao, Patrick Sipley, Junior Pauga.