Auckland, New Zealand, April 9, 2011 – With their 24-12 victory in the feature NRL match of a triple header, the Vodafone Warriors completed back-to-back victories for the first time this year and ensured a miserable outcome for the visiting Sydney Roosters at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
Earlier the Auckland Vulcans, boasting a number of Vodafone Warriors NRL squad members, savaged the Roosters’ feeder club Newtown 60-10 in their fifth-round New South Wales Cup match and the Vodafone Junior Warriors followed up by trouncing the Roosters 42-0 in the NYC match.
Scoring four tries to two in a rugged first-grade contest, the Vodafone Warriors completed a rout which saw the three home teams produce a total of 126 points while the visitors managed only 22 points between them.
The NRL win wasn’t without its concerns with rookie fullback Glen Fisiiahi helped from the field after only 33 minutes with what appeared to be a serious leg injury. Scans will be needed to determine the full extent of what initially seemed to be a high ankle strain.
Fisiiahi’s premature exit after his stunning effort against Cronulla was a major setback, forcing coach Ivan Cleary to move Lance Hohaia to fullback.
Hohaia, who was left out of the side for the Cronulla game, was brought into the line-up midweek as an interchange option to fill in at dummy half. Instead he found himself back at fullback and immediately regained confidence, chiming in splendidly for his 50th career try soon after halftime to take the Vodafone Warriors out to an important 16-6 advantage.
Producing a vastly improved defensive effort, the Vodafone Warriors had countered the Roosters’ opening try by Kiwi Shaun Kenny-Dowall with a well-worked touchdown for winger Krisnan Inu. It came courtesy of a beautifully-weighted Feleti Mateo grubber kick in behind the Roosters’ defence.
Right on halftime the irrepressible Lewis Brown had given his side a narrow lead. Only moments after being moved from his role on the left side of the attack to line up on the right, Brown speared across for a well-worked try which James Maloney failed to convert, the first shot at goal the Vodafone Warriors had missed this season.
Halfback Mitchell Pearce brought the Roosters back to 12-16 when loose defence gifted him a 54th-minute try before Inu had a chance to restore the lead. He seemed certain to score when he hauled in an attacking bomb only to be held up by BJ Leilua.
But in the 68th minute centre Shaun Berrigan ultimately settled the issue when he latched onto a loose Roosters pass. Scooping it up on the fly, he sped away from the cover to score between the posts.
There was still time for Maloney to kick a penalty as well to produce the final score-line of 24-12.
The result lifted the Vodafone Warriors up to 11th on the points ladder for a time. They travel to Sydney next weekend to meet Manly.
At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 24 (Krisnan Inu, Lewis Brown, Lance Hohaia, Shaun Berrigan tries; James Maloney 3 conversions, penalty).
Sydney Roosters 12 (Shaun Kenny-Dowall. Mitchell Pearce tries; Braith Anasta 2 conversions).
Halftime: 10-6 Vodafone Warriors.
Referees: Jason Robinson and Chris James,
Vodafone Warriors: Glen Fisiiahi; Bill Tupou, Shaun Berrigan, Simon Mannering (c), Krisnan Inu; Feleti Mateo, James Maloney; Sam Rapira, Aaron Heremaia, Jacob Lillyman; Lewis Brown, Elijah Taylor; Micheal Luck. Interchange: Lance Hohaia, Jeremy Latimore, Ukuma Ta’ai, Ben Matulino.