The One New Zealand Warriors rebounded from their week one finals loss to South Sydney with a commanding 49-6 win over Canberra in Saturday's sudden-death clash at Leichhardt Oval.
Scoring nine tries to one, the Warriors now advance to next week’s preliminary final against minor premiers the North Sydney Bears.
They were coming off a week one 12-26 loss to South Sydney heading into their week two finals battle.
Fielding a stronger line-up showing numerous changes from last week, the Slade Griffin-coached Warriors were relentless.
They were up 10-0 after nine minutes through tries to back rowers Jacob Laban and captain Kalani Going and were out to 26-6 at half time after a Ben Farr try and a double for interchange forward Maia Sands in the 34th and 39th minutes.
The Raiders had a solitary try midway through the first half but were unable to find a way into the contest against a ruthless Warriors outfit.
Four more tries followed in the second half through Setu Tu, Isaiah Vagana, Tom Ale and Eiden Ackland to complete the Warriors’ most important win of the season so far.
One New Zealand Warriors coach Slade Griffin said the hefty scoreline confirmed what his team knew they could do.
“The other most impressive thing for us was keeping the Raiders to six points. But we really got back to our style of footy and it helped having a few guys come back in,” he said.
“But that’s been one of the best things about our side this year. We’ve had guys come for an opportunity as part-time players but earned fulltime train-trial contracts and have gone on to debut in the NRL.
“We want to win football games sure, but to see the impact this team has had on people’s lives is just as important.”
Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
One New Zealand Warriors 49 (Maia Sands 2, Jacob Laban, Kalani Going, Ben Farr, Set Tu, Isaiah Vagana, Tom Ale, Eiden Ackland tries; Ronald Volkman 5 conversions; Ben Farr conversion) Ronald Volkman field goal).
Canberra Raiders 6 (Brad Morkos try; Chevy Stewart conversion).
Halftime: 26-6 One New Zealand Warriors.
One New Zealand Warriors | Setu Tu; Moala Graham-Taufa, Ali Leiataua, Brayden Wiliame, Edward Kosi; Ben Farr, Ronald Volkman; Tanner Stowers-Smith, Paul Roache, Tom Ale; Kalani Going (captain), Jacob Laban; Michael Sio. Interchange: Isaiah Vagana, Zyon Maiu’u, Maia Sands, Eiden Ackland.