An unchanged 21-man squad has been named for the Vodafone Warriors’ sixth-round NRL encounter with the Parramatta Eels at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday (4.00pm kick-off).
On a day when the Vodafone Warriors’ NRL, Intrust Super Premiership and NYC teams will again provide a tripleheader package of football action, the club’s game day theme is focused on honouring the community’s emergency services, or everyday heroes.
On the field the Vodafone Warriors are set to use the same combination which closed out a thrilling battle against the Gold Coast Titans 28-22 to register the second win of their 2017 campaign.
Second rower Bodene Thompson has been named in the second row after playing only the first half against the Titans. Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney brought James Gavet off the bench to start last weekend but he has again listed Charlie Gubb as veteran prop Jacob Lillyman’s starting front row partner.
The extended bench comprises the same eight players selected last week.
Kearney reiterated he was pleased with the manner in which the players performed in the second half against the Titans – especially the forwards – after some concerns in a first half which saw the Vodafone Warriors fall 12-22 behind.
A vastly-improved defensive display resulted in the Titans failing to add to their points tally in the last 45 minutes of the contest while the Vodafone Warriors added 16 points through tries to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, club debutant Kieran Foran and Ryan Hoffman with the match-winner in the 78th minute.
Kearney said the second half provided the kind of template the Vodafone Warriors had been working on in the preseason and the opening rounds of the competition.
With a completion rate of 18 from 21 sets (86 per cent), the Vodafone Warriors were able to dominate possession and field position in the second half, limiting the Titans to just 13 sets.
After making 19 errors in the loss to St George Illawarra, the Vodafone Warriors cut their error rate to only five last Sunday.
They made 1783 metres with 10 players topping 100 – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (209), Jacob Lillyman (169), Sam Lisone (147), Ken Maumalo (129), Kieran Foran (123), Issac Luke (119), Ryan Hoffman (112), James Gavet (105), Shaun Johnson (104) and David Fusitu’a (101). Charlie Gubb (99) and Blake Ayshford (97) were only just short of three figures.
Last week’s win was the 250th for the Vodafone Warriors since entering the competition while it was the 149th at Mount Smart Stadium.
The Vodafone Warriors and the Eels come into the match with identical 2-3 win-loss records, the Vodafone Warriors rebounding from three defeats to win last week while Parramatta has lost its last three to Gold Coast (14-26), Cronulla (6-20) and Canberra (18-30) after beating Manly and St George Illawarra in the opening two rounds.
The Eels hold a 20-16 advantage overall in contests between the two sides, winning at Mount Smart Stadium in the final round last year. The Vodafone Warriors have won five of the last six encounters against Parramatta at Mount Smart Stadium.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v PARRAMATTA EELS
4.00pm, Sunday, April 9
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 BLAKE AYSHFORD
3 DAVID FUSITU’A
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 KIERAN FORAN
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 CHARLIE GUBB
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 JACOB LILLYMAN
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN
13 SIMON MANNERING
14 NATHANIEL ROACHE
15 JAMES GAVET
16 SAM LISONE
17 LIGI SAO
18 ALBERT VETE
20 BUNTY AFOA
21 MAFOA’AEATA HINGANO
22 MASON LINO
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY