By Daniel Adolph
The Vodafone Warriors were unable to build on a promising start against Mounties as they slumped to a 22-42 loss to the Mounties in today's ninth-round VB NSW Cup encounter at Eden Park.
The home side, which had a host of changes to the line-up before kickoff, lacked cohesion and was ultimately undone by a more physical Mounties outfit.
The Warriors were out of the blocks early, though, taking a 12-0 lead but this was negated before the break by the visitors, who then came back onto the park in the second half and ran away with the contest.
Solomone Kata collected the day's first try nine minutes in after grounding his own deft grubber to post his first try in VB NSW Cup football.
Skipper Steve Waetford then extended the lead after receiving a rifle of a pass from Tuimoala Lolohea that split the defence.
Mounties shifted gears at this point and the Warriors were unable to match their intensity.
Mounties hooker Matt McIllwrick helped cut the lead in half when he crashed over beside the posts in the 25th minute and then Mosese Pangai, who was a constant menace on the left edge all afternoon, forced his way through. Mitch Cornish added the extras to level the scores.
The away side continued in this vein in the second half and quickly took the ascendancy.
Sami Sauiluma, who has eight NRL appearances for the Raiders, proved too much to handle for the Warriors' defence as he scored four times in the space of 22 minutes.
His try tally stands at 14 for the year and today marked the second time he has scored four so far in this campaign.
Mounties skipper Jake Foster also added to the score-line, crossing the line for the 11th time this season.
The visitors' final try of the day was their finest as winger Jeremy Hawkins reeled in a perfectly weighted high-ball from Mitch Cornish in the 70th minute.
The home side found their feet again in the closing moments with Lolohea scoring twice but the game was far beyond repair at this point having leaked 42 unanswered points.
Rohan Smith's side is now reeling after two heavy losses and will be looking to stave off a third straight loss when it faces Manly at Brookvale Oval next week while Mounties will enjoy the bye.
Mounties 42 (S Sauiluma 4, J Foster, M McIllwrick, J Hawkins, M Pangai tries; M Cornish 5 goals) def. New Zealand Warriors 22 (T Lolohea 2, S Kata, S Waetford tries; T Lolohea 3 goals) at Eden Park.