The Vodafone Warriors had to settle for a 30-30 draw after leading the Mounties for almost the entire contest in today's seventh-round Intrust Super Premiership clash at Aubrey Keech Reserve in west Sydney.
The unbeaten competition leaders were ahead 30-24 with time running out when the Mounties created a late try for fullback Zac Santo, former Vodafone Warrior Isaac John converting to deny the visitors a seventh straight win.
The draw leaves the Vodafone Warriors on top of the table despite dropping a point for the first tiome this year.
They started the match brilliantly, Mason Lino laying on a short pass for prop Albert Vete to score in just the third minute before standoff Sam Cook strolled over to score near the posts in the sixth minute for a 12-0 lead.
Second rower Ofa Ogden crashed over from close range on the last tackle in the 21st minute before winger Junior Pauga finished off a left side raid in the corner to give the Vodafone Warriors what seemed a commanding 22-4 lead after 26 minutes.
A second Reubenn Rennie try left the Mounties 8-22 down at the break.
The comeback was on when Mounties half Lachlan Croker sliced through the defence on the back of an early Vodafone Warriors turnover to score next to the posts just two minutes into the second half to bring the home side back to within eight points.
When Yileen Gordon finished off a slashing movement through the middle the Mounties were right back in the contest at just 18-22 behind.
As errors started to creep into both sides’ games, the Vodafone Warriors appeared to give themselves some breathing space when another clever Lino pass saw centre Matt Allwood score out wide with just over 20 minutes to play. Lino’s conversion had his side 28-18 ahead.
The Mounties weren't to be denied. Santo showed great strength to reach out through two defenders and score his first try with 18 minutes left to again get Steve Antonelli’s men back to within four points after John’s conversion.
Gordon then dropped the ball with a try on and no defender in front three minutes later, before Lino landed a 30 metre penalty goal for dissent to give the Vodafone Warriors some breathing space at 30-24.
However, on the back of more turnover ball in the closing stages, the home side exerted enough pressure for Santo to score his second try with 90 seconds left on the clock. John converted to level the scores for the first time in the match.
The Vodafone Warriors will look to maintain their unbeaten record at North Sydney Oval against the Bears next Sunday.
Aubrey Keech Reserve, Sydney
Mounties 30 (Reubenn Rennie 2, Zac Santo 2, Lachlan Croker, Yileen Gordon tries; Isaac John 3 conversions).
Vodafone Warriors 30 (Albert Vete, Sam Cook, Ofa Ogden, Junior Pauga, Matt Allwood tries; Mason Lino 4 conversions, penalty).
Halftime: 22-8 Vodafone Warriors.
Vodafone Warriors | Chanze Nicoll-Klokstad; Junior Pauga, Matt Allwood, Semisi Fotu, Tuimoala Lolohea; Sam Cook, Mason Lino (c); Pat Sipley, Jazz Tevaga, Albert Vete; Ofa Ogden, Daniel Palavi; Paulos Latu. Interchange: Chris Satae, Toafofoa Sipley, Matthew Sauni, Reece Charlie.