Win nine of the season was delivered by the Vodafone Warriors courtesy of an 18-10 victory over North Sydney in tonight's 12th-round Intrust Super Premiership encounter at Mount Smart Stadium.
With competition leader Wyong also winning - 22-20 over the Mounties - the Vodafone Warriors remain one point back in second spot on 20 points. They also had two draws and just one loss.
Coming off their 20-18 comeback victory over Wentworthville last week, the Vodafone Warriors quickly settled into their work against the Bears, maintaining a healthy completion rate and complementing it with rock solid defence.
The recipe yielded two tries inside the first 25 minutes.
The first was slickly executed, the Vodafone Warriors in good ball territory where captain Mason Lino iced a set in the fourth minute, his delightfully-weighted grubber handing centre Junior Pauga the opening try. Lino's conversion was sweet and the Ricky Henry-coached side was under way.
The players kept to the script, working North Sydney over through the middle using their big men Ligi Sao, Charlie Gubb, Ofa Ogden and Isaiah Papali'i with hooker Jazz Tevaga and loose forward James Bell injecting themselves as well. They also had big boppers Toaf and Pat Sipley to look to from the bench and, when the former was injected, he made an immediate impact with some sapping ball carries (as did Pat when he came into the game).
In the 24th minute the Bears couldn't do anything to stop Toaf Sipley as he carried defenders across the line for his side's second try. Lino banged over the conversion for a 12-0 lead, the least the Vodafone Warriors deserved after the way they'd opened up.
They couldn't add any more points before the break but the score-line belied the dominance they had achieved.
Almost inevitably the Vodafone Warriors underlined their superiority early in the second spell and it was Toaf Sipley who provided the impetus, his powerful carry paving the way for Ogden to bulldoze his way over from close range.
At 18-0 there was a real chance for the home side to put the foot down but they couldn't quite go on with it.
North Sydney showed some heart to bite back with two tries and, had the second been converted to close it up to 18-12, there might have been a nervy finish. The emphasis was on might because on the day the Vodafone Warriors had the Bears' measure and efficiently closed out the game for another important win.
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 18 (Junior Pauga, Toafofoa Sipley, Ofahiki Ogden tries; Mason Lino 3 conversions).
North Sydney Bears 10 (Abbas Miski, Chad O'Donnell tries; Eli Levido conversion).
Halftime: 12-0 Vodafone Warriors.
Vodafone Warriors | Sam Cook; Matthew Sauni, Junior Pauga, Semisi Fotu, Paulos Latu; Mafoa'aeata Hingano, Mason Lino (c); Ligi Sao, Jazz Tevaga, Charlie Gubb; Ofahiki Ogden, Isaiah Papali'i; James Bell. Interchange: Patrick Sipley, Toafofoa Sipley, King Vuniyayawa, Kane Telea.