Brisbane, Queensland, April 13, 2003 – The Vodafone Warriors collected their third straight win against Brisbane as well as a contender for one of the NRL’s most astonishing tries when they trounced the home side 32-12 in today’s fifth-round encounter at ANZ Stadium.
The stunning performance came on the back of last year’s double against the Broncos when they upset them 26-16 at ANZ Stadium and then prevailed 18-4 at Ericsson Stadium, a success that went a long way to securing the minor premiership.
Since beating their traditional foes for the first time in 2001 (13-12 in Auckland), the Vodafone Warriors’ belief against the NRL heavyweights has gone to a new level.
Today their brilliant game-plan was perfectly executed.
There had been mental games through the week about Gorden Tallis, who was nullified throughout the match, and from Anderson when the team got to Brisbane, suggesting that they would struggle with the heat.
But by the time speedster Justin Murphy was brought on late to take advantage of the energy which had been sapped by the grinding play from the forwards, the game was already won.
Six tries to two said it all with the most dazzling coming courtesy of a blind basketball pass over the head from Sione Faumuina to newcomer Evarn Tuimavave to score the last touchdown with seconds left.
The Vodafone Warriors had enjoyed the bulk of possession and territory in the opening exchanges, and there was the feeling they should have scored more than the 10 points they had secured.
Those had come from wing Francis Meli, who accepted a pinpoint kick from Stacey Jones for the first try, then got his fingertip to a pass from Brent Tate to Stu Kelly and recaptured the ball to cross untouched for his second.
The Broncos had only two sets of six in the Vodafone Warriors' half in the first quarter, and they dropped the ball both times.
In the second quarter, they got down there twice again thanks to some barnstorming runs from Corey Pearson. They scored the first time, through the strength of Michael De Vere, when he wrestled his way through the defence, but they couldn't score again, despite camping in the Vodafone Warriors' red zone.
In the last six minutes, the Broncos had all the ball and all the territory, and the Vodafone Warriors had to do all the tackling, and when Stuart Kelly knocked the ball on with seconds to the break, he relieved the pressure valve when it was about to blow.
There had been plenty of errors by both sides. It was all down to the intensity of the tackling. Each had bombed try-scoring opportunities because of it.
Maybe that's where and when the Vodafone Warriors broke the Broncos' back. It was that, or the first minute of the second spell, when Clinton Toopi drew the defence and Meli went 20 metres at speed, then passed inside to Marsh, backing up from dummy-half, to score.
A smart injection of interchange prop Iafeta Paleaaesina gained the ground that produced try four, to Logan Swann, who showed good co-ordination to take a pass which rolled behind him, then copped a smack in the head from Tallis, but still got the ball down for points.
It was a good confidence call for Marsh to be allowed a penalty shot midway through the second half. He landed it to put the Broncos out for the count.
There were 15 minutes left and experience said they would be long ones, but the sight of a Broncos' trainer retreating with the team as the Vodafone Warriors crashed downfield at speed said it all. The home team were gone, beaten. Faumuina stepped his way to try five, then delivered that blind throw to Tuimavave for the last try.
ANZ Stadium, Brisbane
Brisbane Broncos 12 (David De Vere 2 tries, 2 conversions).
Vodafone Warriors 32 (Francis Meli 2, Logan Swann, P J Marsh, Sione Faumuina, Evarn Tuimavave tries; P J Marsh 2 conversions, penalty; Evarn Tuimavave conversion).
Brisbane Broncos | Darren Lockyer; Michael De Vere, Brent Tate, Tonie Carroll, Stuart Kelly; Brett Seymour, Shaun Berrigan; Shane Webcke, Richard Swain, Petero Civoniceva; Gorden Tallis, Brad Meyers; Dane Carlaw. Interchange: Corey Parker, Andrew Gee, Casey McGuire, Neale Wyatt.
Vodafone Warriors | Motu Tony; Henry Fa’afili, Vinnie Anderson, Clinton Toopi, Francis Meli; Lance Hohaia, Stacey Jones; Jerry Seuseu, P J Marsh, Mark Tookey; Logan Swann, Wairangi Koopu; Monty Betham. Interchange: Justin Murphy, Evarn Tuimavave, Sione Faumuina, Iafeta Paleaaesina.