Three high-quality second half tries and aggressive defence carried the One New Zealand Warriors to an impressive 36-14 win over Parramatta in today’s 19th-round New South Wales Cup contest at CommBank Stadium in Sydney.
It’s the first time the Warriors have had back-to-back victories in more than two months, their 10th win of the season lifting them to 23 points to regain fourth spot on the ladder.
While they conceded the opening try of the match, the One New Zealand Warriors worked their way into the match and imposed themselves in the middle section of the first half.
Outstanding back rower Kalani Going ran into a gaping hole for his side’s first try in the 13th minute followed immediately by their second, the Warriors creating room on the left edge for winger Moala Graham-Taufa who surged down the touchline before off-loading inside for centre Brayden Wiliame to go over.
A 12-4 lead blew out to 18-4 after 25 minutes when Graham-Taufa went from provider to beneficiary as the Warriors showed signs of being in control of the battle.
However, they lapsed in the closing moments of the half allowing former Warrior Jack Murchie to score a soft try to cut the Warriors’ lead to 18-8 at the break.
The complexion of the game changed in the opening quarter of the second half as the Eels benefited from a landslide of possession and field position courtesy of a contentious run of nine straight penalties.
The One New Zealand Warriors stood up to the defensive scrutiny set after set but ultimately couldn’t stop a third Parramatta try which enabled the home side to close within four points at 14-18.
With the contest delicately balanced the Warriors flipped it with two Taine Tuaupiki tries in the 58th and 60th minutes to blast out to a 30-14 lead.
There was only one team in it now.
Eiden Ackland, brought in to start at halfback, slotted a penalty for a 32-14 margin before a magical try finished the scoring.
With no room to work in, winger Setu Tu latched onto a kick, somehow stayed in the field of play and flicked a pass infield where it ricocheted into Jacob Laban’s hands for the side’s sixth try.
Equally heartening was the way the Warriors defended in the closing minutes when they refused to allow the Eels a consolation try.
Going finished the match with 171 metres from 14 runs, two line breaks, a try assists and four tackle breaks plus 35 tackles but there were plenty of other outstanding contributors.
As well as his two well-taken tries, Tuaupiki made 177 metres with six tackle breaks while Graham-Taufa ran for 221 metres, Ben Farr 172, Tu 148, Leka Halasima 151 and Laban 102 plus 37 tackles.
CommBank Stadium, Sydney
Parramatta Eels 14 (Arthur Miller-Stephen, Jack Murchie, Jacob Davis tries; Jordan Rankin conversion).
One New Zealand Warriors 32 (Taine Tuaupiki 2, Kalani Going, Brayden Wiliame, Moala Graham-Taufa, Jacob Laban tries; Eiden Ackland 5 conversions, penalty).
Halftime: 18-8 One New Zealand Warriors.
One New Zealand Warriors | Taine Tuauapiki; Setu Tu, Viliami Vailea, Brayden Wiliame, Moala Graham-Taufa; Ben Farr, Eiden Ackland; Zyon Maiu’u, Michael Sio (c), Isaiah Vagana; Jacob Laban, Leka Halasima; Kalani Going (c). Interchange: Tanner Stowers-Smith, Maia Sands, Eddie Ieremia, Sanele Aukusitino.