Ahead of the Vodafone Warriors’ 11th-round encounter with the Sydney Roosters this Saturday – the 42nd in history – we go back to the very first time the two clubs met for this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday (presented by Mazda).
Memories flood back of a sunny Sunday afternoon for the round eight clash of the then-Winfield Cup, Ericsson Stadium jammed yet again with close to 30,000 spectators for one of the glamour game days of the original Auckland Warriors’ debut season.
Every home game was an occasion in 1995 and this one was right up there.
The Warriors had found their feet after all the hype of the opening weeks, securing their first official victory with a 38-12 home win over Illawarra in round six and backing it up by trouncing Parramatta 40-4 in Sydney the following week. The Sydney City Roosters, as they were known then, had also won their last two matches against South Sydney and Gold Coast.
It was set up perfectly for an epic contest; it didn’t disappoint.
The Roosters led 12-4 at halftime but the Warriors were impressive in the second half in securing a thrilling and famous 26-22 victory.
Captain Dean Bell, who turned 33 on the eve of the match, had a day to remember as he scored his side’s only try in the first half and made the result safe with a fabulous 75th minute try when he fed winger Sean Hoppe and backed him up on the outside to surge away.
Current Vodafone Warriors assistant coach Tony Iro was influential for the Roosters, the tall second rower laying on two tries but then being ordered off for a high tackle on Joe Vagana in the second half.
April 30, 1995
Ericsson Stadium, Auckland
Auckland Warriors 26 (Dean Bell 2, Duane Mann, Tony Tatupu, Tea Ropati tries; Gene Ngamu 3 conversions).
Sydney City Roosters 22 (Darren Junee 2, Shane Whereat, Graham Mackay, Terry Hermansson tries; Graham Mackay conversion).
Halftime: 12-4 Roosters.
Referee: Paul McBlane.
Auckland Warriors | Phil Blake; Sean Hoppe, Dean Bell (c), Tea Ropati, Whetu Taewa; Gene Ngamu, Greg Alexander; Joe Vagana, Duane Mann, Hitro Okesene; Tony Tuimavave, Stephen Kearney; Logan Edwards. Interchange: Tony Tatupu, John Kirwan, Jason Mackie, Syd Eru.
Sydney City Roosters | Darren Junee; Graham Mackay, Paul Smith, Jason Hudson, Shane Whereat; Andrew Walker, Adrian Lam; Jason Lowrie, Sean Garlick (c), Terry Hermansson; Tony Iro, James Smith; Luke Ricketson. Interchange: Danny Lima, Mark Protheroe, Michael Salafia.