The Vodafone Warriors bounced back from a disappointing Canterbury Cup loss last week, beating the Wentworthville Magpies 26-16 at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland today.
It only took four minutes before the Vodafone Warriors struck, after an offload by Sam Lisone sent Leivaha Pulu through a yawning gap 40 metres out.
He was hauled down just short of the line but a quick play the ball enabled Solomone Kata to smash his way over in the corner.
After the game settled down into a battle in the middle of the park, Wentworthville winger Greg Leleisiuao cut back infield and scored what could only be described as a pretty soft try next to the posts. Brad Takairangi’s conversion gave the visitors the lead after 17 minutes.
However, Wentworthville couldn’t follow it up with any more points, despite dominating territory.
It fact, it was the Vodafone Warriors who were the next to score. Chanel Harris-Tavita sent a shallow kick out towards the wing, only for the Laleisiuao to tap it back in the field of play and directly into Harris-Tavita’s hands five metres out from the line. The playmaker smartly ran the ball around between the posts for Adam Keighran to convert.
With six minutes to go in the half the Vodafone Warriors were awarded a penalty that gave them excellent field position in the Wentworthville 20. A quick play and some slick hands from Harris-Tavita and Kata sent Setu Tu over to score close to the posts.
However, Harris-Tavita went from hero to zero and back again shortly after, dropping the kickoff and giving Wentworthville a chance with halftime looming. He then came racing out of the line to pressure Will Smith into dropping the ball close to the line, sending the teams to the sheds with the score 16-6.
The Vodafone Warriors then struck first after a strong run upfield by Kata and a couple of frustrating penalties by Wentworthville. The ensuing set then moved the ball from one side of the field and then back to Kata, who scored his second in the left hand corner.
They should’ve had another straight away after a strong run by Phillip Makatoa but Cole Waaka dropped the last pass cold with the line open.
It took until the 55th minute before Wentworthville could finally start clicking, with Takairangi and Haze Dunster combining to send Ethan Perry in to score. Brad Keighran slotted the sideline conversion to pull the Magpies back within two tries.
Dunster then got on the score sheet himself not long after in the 65th minute. It came after a Takairangi kick was fumbled and bounced up for the winger to dive in at the corner. Brad Keighran’s sideline conversion clanked off the upright.
But any hopes of a comeback were killed off with eight minutes to play when Harris-Tavita and Kata linked up to send Taane Milne away for a try. It was converted by Adam Keighran to make the final score 26-16.
The result means that bragging rights in the Keighran family can go to Adam for the time being, getting one over brother Brad. However, they’ll meet again in round 19.
At North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 26 (Solomone Kata, Setu Tu, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Taane Milne tries; Adam Keighran 3 conversiosn).
Wentworthville Magpies 16 (Ethan Parry, Greg Leleisiuao, Haze Dunster tries; Brad Keighran conversion; Brad Takairangi conversion).
Halftime: 16-6 Vodafone Warriors.
Vodafone Warriors | Adam Pompey; Cole Waaka, Hayze Perham, Solomone Kata, Setu Tu; Adam Keighran, Chanel Harris-Tavita; Ligi Sao (c), Tyler Slade, Sam Lisone; Blake Ayshford, Taane Milne; Leivaha Pulu. Interchange: Jackson Frei, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Phillip Makatoa, Api Pewhairangi.