By Jamie Anderson at Morry Breen Oval
The NZ Warriors posted a gutsy 6-4 win over the Wyong Roos in what may well be looked back on in years to come as one of the franchises great wins in any grade.
The visitors stoutly defended a slender lead for the best part of 60 minutes following, firstly, the sin binning of Charlie Gubb, and then the sending off of VB NSW Cup debutant, Ken Maumalo.
Played on a chilly afternoon with a southerly breeze assisting the Warriors in the first half, both sides struggled to get a foothold in the match early on until the visitors opened proceedings in the 18th minute.
After several unsuccessful raids in the opening exchanges, New Zealand international, Siliva Havili, took it upon himself to get the job done as he jumped out of dummy half and powered his way over the line. And with Sam Cook’s conversion, the Warriors led it 6-0.
Just prior to Havili’s try, the Warriors found themselves a man down after Charlie Gubb was binned for 10 minutes after it was deemed he threw a punch during an altercation with a Wyong player.
But despite being the man down, the Warriors managed to score courtesy of Havili and held the Roos out until Gubb’s return.
But just when it appeared that the Warriors had weathered the storm, the match was turned on its head.
Young Ken Maumalo, who had looked impressive with a number of powerful runs early on, came in field to help get the Warriors out of their own end, but as he neared the defensive line, he raised his knee and sent the Roos captain, Mitch Williams, sprawling backwards at a rate of knots.
While Williams was down receiving treatment, Referee Adam Cassidy consulted with his touch judges as to what punishment was deemed necessary. He called out Maumalo and perhaps somewhat justifiably sent him on his way.
Now down to 12 men once more, but this time until the full time siren, the Warriors faced the prospect of defending a slim lead for some 50 minutes, as well as facing the prospect of running into the wind in the second forty minutes.
When the teams returned from the half time break, it was the Warriors who started the fastest, and they almost crossed a couple of times thanks to Havili and Gubb, however the Roos defended their line well.
As the half wore on, the Roos began to dominate possession and field position, as was to be expected, but a combination of poor execution and discipline, combined with some inspirational Warriors defence, saw the score remain 6-0 until late in the piece.
Finally in the 68th minute Wyong managed to cross the stripe as a long Jono Ford pass hit Florimo on the chest, and the son of the former Bears great, Greg, managed to do enough to get it down out wide.
Kheirallah lined up what was his most important attempt since joining the club mid-season, however the kick from out wide was made all the tougher in the conditions, and he was unable to convert, leaving the Warriors gripping on to a two point lead.
Try as they might in the dying stages, the Roos were unable to find a winner, and it was the Warriors, against all odds, that hung on for a historic two point win.
This weekend Wyong will be at home once again in a must win match against the Knights while the Warriors return home and host the Sea Eagles on the Sunday.
NZ Warriors 6 (S Havili try; S Cook goal) def. Wyong Roos 4 (J Florimo try) at Morry Breen Oval.