Big Ken Maumalo's second half try off a Kieran Foran break gave the Vodafone Warriors a 22-10 win over Parramatta - and back-to-back victories - in today's sixth-round NRL clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
The critical try came after the Vodafone Warriors weathered intense pressure from the Eels, conceding one try and dodging bullets on two other occasions.
Then in the 62nd minute the Foran-Maumalo act took the home side out to a 12-point lead before closing it out impressively over the final stanza.
The contest had been a set for set battle across the first 20 minutes with the Vodafone Warriors close to error-free.
Both sides suffered some physical damage early on, Parramatta's try-scoring machine Semi Radradra coming off worse for wear in a collision with David Fusitu'a. He left the field for the head bin and to have a busted nose fixed up but was cleared to return. The Vodafone Warriors also had a setback when aggressive prop James Gavet went up the tunnel to be checked; he, too, was cleared to come back.
On the 20-minute mark the deadlock was broken, standoff Brad Takairangi dropping off to Nathan Brown who cut back against the grain to score too easily between the posts. Clint Gutherson's conversion had the visitors in front 6-0.
The Vodafone Warriors were unruffled.
They came down a short right side, Shaun Johnson combining to release Blake Ayshford. His pass to David Fusitu'a was knocked on by the Eels giving the Vodafone Warriors an attacking scrum.
They worked the Eels around and, in the 25th minute, a Johnson grubber deflected, Bodene Thompson pouncing to sweep up and score in the one motion for his second try of the season. Johnson stroked the conversion and it was 6-6.
There was much to like about the Vodafone Warriors, defending well and rolling forward superbly through the middle.
They set up for a left edge play, going to Foran, Ryan Hoffman cutting back on a decoy run and the ball going out the back for Simon Mannering to scoot in for his first try of the year and the 59th of his career. Referee Henry Perenara wanted the bunker to ensure there was no obstruction. There was none, it was quickly rubber-stamped and Johnson converted for a 12-6 lead after 32 minutes.
From the restart the Vodafone Warriors were biting back at the Eels. They set up in Parramatta's red zone again and this time they headed right, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's cut-out pass hitting Ayshford who delivered a neat overhead dunk back inside for Thompson to grab and score his second.
No conversion this time from Johnson but the Vodafone Warriors had responded with 16 unanswered points to lead 16-6 at the break.
The quality of the first half display was on a par with the effort in the second half against Gold Coast last Sunday with the Vodafone Warriors completing 20 of 21 sets.
The second hald didn't begin so well, the margin quickly trimmed to 16-10 after Tuivasa-Sheck was driven into touch endeavouring to clean up a cleverly-placed kick.
From the attacking scrum the Eels went towards the posts and then unleashed to their right, a long lobbed pass from Takairangi giving an unmarked Josh Hoffman a try in the right-hand corner. Gutherson's conversion was straight but fell short to leave the Vodafone Warriors 16-10 ahead after 45 minutes.
Minutes later the Eels were over again through Corey Norman. Perenara referred to the bunker, ruling it no try on an obstruction call. The bunker concurred.
It was the same soon after when Parramatta went left again, Radradra swept into touch by some desperate last-ditch scramble from Tuivasa-Sheck and Fusitu'a. The Eels claimed a try, Perenara didn't agree and the bunker backed up the referee's call.
For 15 minutes all the heat was coming from Parramatta, though, and the Vodafone Warriors needed to dig in to resist the visitors and find some field position.
They did it brilliantly, finally earning some joy - and richly deserved it was - in the 62nd minute when Foran broke through and fed Maumalo on his left to give the giant winger just his fourth career try and his second of the season. He ran it around closer to the posts to hand Johnson an easier angle for the conversion and a 12-point lead.
Just as impressive was the manner in which the Vodafone Warriors negotiated the last stages on the contest as they kept the Eels on the back foot.
Central to the success was an 82 per cent completion rate (32 from 39 sets), outstanding numbers for metres gained again (1687), a 7-3 advantage in line breaks, just 13 missed tackles and only seven errors.
Any number of individuals excelled, notably the back three who all topped 100 metres - Tuivasa-Sheck with 204 metres and Maumalo with 170 - as well as the astonishing Mannering with 170 metres from 20 runs and 48 tackles.
Everyday heroes were saluted today. Fittingly, there were 17 footballing heroes on the field, too.
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 22 (Bodene Thompson 2, Simon Mannering, Ken Maumalo tries; Shaun Johnson 3 conversions).
Parramatta Eels 10 (Nathan Brown, Josh Hoffman tries; Clint Gutherson conversion).
Halftime: 16-6 Vodafone Warriors.
Referees: Henry Perenara and Matt Noyen.
Vodafone Warriors | Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c); David Fusitu'a, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo; Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson; James Gavet, Issac Luke, Jacob Lillyman; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman; Simon Mannering. Interchange: Nathaniel Roache, Charlie Gubb, Sam Lisone, Ligi Sao.