Just 90 seconds into the contest, the Vodafone Warriors uncorked a stunner to sit the Penrith Panthers right back on their heels on a wet night at Mount Smart Stadium in 2007.
Any number of fans hadn’t even found their way to their seats as the home side exploded up the middle of the field with a classic demonstration of support play.
George Gatis, Logan Swann, Gatis again, Grant Rovelli, Wade McKinnon and Michael Witt all combined before Witt skipped away to score between the posts.
The try ignited an exceptional first half which would see the Vodafone Warriors leading 36-10 at the split and going on to post a fabulous 54-14 victory over a shell-shocked Panthers outfit.
The victory and the manner of it was all the more memorable given the form the Vodafone Warriors had been in going into the encounter.
After beating South Sydney in round seven they had slumped to a run of six consecutive losses, the last of them 2-4 to Melbourne in Auckland.
The following week the Vodafone Warriors were away to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks for a match of critical importance.
It was a slugfest, the Vodafone Warriors hanging on grimly to a 6-2 lead in dreadful weather in front of only 4000 spectators. The clincher came late, Manu Vatuvei scoring out wide on the left and Witt nailing an extraordinary touchline conversion into the teeth of a gale for a hard-earned 12-2 victory.
It lit the fire in the side, though, with Penrith blasted aside six days later to spark a run which saw the Vodafone Warriors winning nine and drawing one of their last 12 matches of the regular season to surge into the top four. Along the way they carved up the Dragons 44-16, Newcastle 52-10 and Manly 36-14. The only losses were away to North Queensland and Canberra.
June 22, 2007
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 54 (Michael Witt 2, Wade McKinnon 2, George Gatis, Wairangi Koopu, Epalahame Lauaki, Manu Vatuvei, Louis Anderson tries; Michael Witt 6 conversions; Tony Martin 3 conversions).
Penrith Panthers 14 (Luke Lewis, Nick Youngquest, Keith Peters tries; Michael Gordon conversion).
Halftime: 36-10 Vodafone Warriors.
Referee: Steve Clark.
Vodafone Warriors | Wade McKinnon; Patrick Ah Van, Tony Martin, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei; Michael Witt, Grant Rovelli; Evarn Tuimavave, George Gatis, Steve Price (c); Louis Anderson, Logan Swann; Micheal Luck. Interchange: Nathan Fien, Sam Rapira, Epalahame Lauaki, Wairangi Koopu.
Penrith Panthers | Rhys Wesser; Michael Gordon, Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Nick Youngquest; Maurice Blair, Craig Gower; Joel Clinton, Paul Aiton, Frank Puletua; Junior Moors, Tony Puletua; Nathan Smith. Interchange: Tim Grant, Frank Pritchard, Keith Peters, Geoff Daniela.