The Vodafone Warriors have put two disappointing displays behind them with a dominant 28-10 win over Brisbane in tonight's 12th-round NRL clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
With 15 minutes to play the Broncos had recovered from a 0-22 deficit to trail 10-22 but the Vodafone Warriors kicked out to an 18-point advantage with a powerhouse try to rampaging prop James Gavet and then closed out the match.
The result lifted the Vodafone Warriors to 10 points (just outside the top eight) ahead of back-to-back away games against Parramatta and Gold Coast. It was also the club's fifth win in six starts at Mount Smart.
It capped a night on which the club was able to celebrate a winning treble for the first time this year after the ISP and NYC teams also bagged success.
For the Stephen Kearney-coached NRL side tonight was about redemption and also about recognising the club's heritage.
Resplendent in their 'Pacific Warrior' strip, the Vodafone Warriors were honouring the club's Pasifika heritage which has been so prevalent from the outset in 1995.
More importantly, in the here and now, they were seeking to rediscover not just the form but especially the attitude which had distinguished their output up to and including a courageous 14-13 win over the Sydney Roosters on April 30.
The desperation to do so was manifest from the opening moments tonight after the disappointments the Vodafone Warriors had been forced to digest against Penrith and St George Illawarra over the last two weeks.
They set about building sustained pressure and found early joy going to their left in the 11th minute. Halfback Shaun Johnson swooped around from the right to take standoff Kieran Foran's pass and dummied sweetly to put centre Blake Ayshford over for his first try of the season.
No conversion from Johnson but he was at the centre of the next slice of scoring action, exploding away up the middle of the park for a brilliant try - the 59th of his career - which had the 'Magic Johnson' stamp all over it. It had been initiated by an outstanding break out of defence by Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad when he fielded a last tackle kick and carved all the way towards halfway before being stopped.
A would-be third try inside the first 25 minutes was created by Johnson, holding the defence up and giving Nicoll-Klokstad a shot at the right-hand corner. He cut back inside while taking a slap around the face, then zipped outside to put the ball down for his fifth career try. Only replays showed he lost control as he was planting the ball. No try was the ruling just when the Vodafone Warriors deserved more reward for the way they had opened the contest.
The Broncos searched for their edges, especially to their right where they had James Roberts' speed. Ayshford was in his face, though, and twice Roberts dropped the ball at his own end of the field.
During this passage Johnson also harried Benji Marshall on the other side, putting him on the deck at one stage - and forcing a knock-on - much to the crowd's delight.
Then in the 38th minute the home side struck again, Johnson once more the provider with a lovely grubber towards the posts which Roger Tuivasa-Sheck raced through to scoop up for his second try of the season. With Johnson's conversion the Vodafone Warriors had a 16-0 lead, a fair reflection of their work both on attack and defence in the opening 40 minutes.
Protecting the lead and creating more pressure was the requirement as the second half started with the Vodafone Warriors receiving the restart.
They immediately dictated the tempo, found themselves in good ball territory and put the foot down with the half just three minutes old.
Hooker Issac Luke shot out of dummy half jazzing through the line on the left, then rolling the ball infield to big wing Ken Maumalo backing up for a straightforward cruise to the line. Johnson converted to have the Vodafone Warriors 22-0 to the good.
The Broncos, though, kept looking for their edges and in the 53rd minute a nice pass from Marshall created space on their right, the ball then moved to the right with the out-numbered defence scrambling to cope. It couldn't, Marshall again involved as Brisbane kept the ball alive for Roberts to score. Jordan Kahu couldn't convert leaving the Vodafone Warriors 22-4 ahead.
Roberts added a second try a few minutes later after a clever Ben Hunt kick which caused some anxiety as the lead was trimmed to 22-10.
Fears were allayed soon after as interchange hooker Nathaniel Roache scooted out of dummy half and served up a nice flat ball for the aggressive Gavet to power over. At 28-10 the Vodafone Warriors were in good shape for their fifth win of the season and they were in no mood to pass up the opportunity.
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 28 (Blake Ayshford, Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ken Maumalo, James Gavet tries; Shaun Johnson 4 conversions).
Brisbane Broncos 10 (James Roberts 2 tries; Jordan Kahu conversion).
Halftime: 16-0 Vodafone Warriors.
Referees: Adam Gee and Gavin Reynolds.
Vodafone Warriors | Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c); Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Blake Ayshford, David Fusitu'a, Ken Maumalo; Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson; Ben Matulino, Issac Luke, James Gavet; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman; Simon Mannering. Interchange: Nathaniel Roache, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Bunty Afoa.