A Bunty Afoa double helped the competition-leading Vodafone Warriors keep their perfect Intrust Super Premiership record intact as they worked their way to a tough 26-14 win over the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday.
The winless Sea Eagles surprised the Ricky Henry-coached in a tough arm wrestle but the home side ground away to deliver a fifth straight win to not only stay on top of the ladder but to also emerge from the round as the only unbeaten team.
For the second week on end, the Vodafone Warriors were pushed to come away with two points.
They were behind for a long stretch the previous week against Illawarra before coming away from Wollongong with a 21-14 victory. Halfback Mason Lino was the key to that win and he would prove to be just as influential against the Sea Eagles.
The Vodafone Warriors fell behind to an early Joey Lussick try but came back swiftly when hooker Nathaniel Roache put second rower Ofa Ogden over with a lovely short ball out of dummy half.
With the Sea Eagles conceding a penalty after putting the restart out on the full, the Vodafone Warriors were straight back at them and again Roache was to the fore. This time he headed right from the ruck, serving it up for Afoa to step and spin for the first leg of his double.
The 10-6 lead became 10-10 when Blacktown captain Brendan Attwood went over and there it stayed until the break.
The Vodafone Warriors broke the deadlock through Sam Cook, dummying and then going under three defenders to score a try Lino converted for a 16-10 lead.
The Sea Eagles cut the deficit to 14-16 with a Dean Parata try but the Vodafone Warriors weren't perturbed, settling down and forcing a goal-line dropout through Lino which would prove critical.
From the repeat set Lino then came up with the telling blow, feeding a rampant Afoa for his second try. He converted for 22-14 lead.
The Vodafone Warriors' progress was held up when the game was stopped for a shocking injury to young utility Tevin Arona who was stretchered off the field with a broken leg.
Fittingly it was Lino who had the final say, throwing an outrageous dummy and scooting through to score.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 26 (Bunty Afoa 2, Ofa Ogden, Sam Cook, Mason Lino tries; Mason Lino 3 conversions).
Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 14 (Joey Lussick, Brendan Attwood, Dean Parata tries; Joey Lussick conversion).
Vodafone Warriors | Chanze Nicoll-Klokstad; Junior Pauga, Matt Allwood, Semisi Fotu, Tuimoala Lolohea; Sam Cook, Mason Lino (c); Pat Sipley, Nathaniel Roache, Albert Vete; Ofa Ogden, Bunty Afoa; Jazz Tevaga. Interchange: Tevin Arona, Chris Satae, Daniel Palavi, Paulos Latu.