By Jamie Anderson at Mt Smart Stadium
The NZ Warriors punched their ticket to the VB NSW Cup finals with an emphatic 48-12 win over the North Sydney Bears on Sunday.
With results going their way on Saturday, the Warriors took to the field knowing that they just needed a win over the Bears to finish in eighth spot, and book a week one match up against Mounties.
But it was the visitors who started the brighter as North Sydney took the early lead after Jesse Roberts crossed the try line following some good early possession. With Kurt Aldridge’s conversion, the Bears lead 6-0 after just five minutes.
But in the 15th minute it was all locked up as some classy touches from Townsend and Mateo saw big Agnatius Paasi barge over for his first of the day.
Around ten minutes later, it was some more nice work by Townsend who popped a nice short ball to that man again in Paasi who bagged himself an early double.
The Warriors had begun to hit top gear and it didn’t take long for them to cross again, and in the 28th minute Steve Waetford showed some nice skill as he ran at the line and got the ball away on the inside to David Bhana who found the line.
Now leading it 18-6 at half time the Warriors knew that they were only 40 minutes of decent football away from the finals, and they put any doubt to rest very early on.
Tries to Papalii and Bhana, his second, saw the home side shoot out to an unassailable 30-6 lead.
Further Warriors tries to Albert Vete and Feleti Mateo saw the Warriors extend their lead to 42-6 before Agnatius Paasi found his way over the line for a well-deserved hat-trick.
Chad Townsend had a perfect day with the boot, kicking all eight of his attempts at goal, and played well enough with ball in hand to serve as a reminder to Warriors NRL coach Andrew McFadden that he is still there if required.
Nathaniel Neale grabbed a late consolation try for the Bears, but the red and blacks will be happy that the season is over, and will look forward to starting afresh in 2015.
As mentioned earlier, the Warriors have booked a clash with Mounties at Leichhardt Oval this Sunday in what looks a cracking match up on paper.
Mounties claimed bragging rights in both of their meeting this year, winning 42-22 at Eden Park in Round 9 and then 42-4 at Aubrey Keech Reserve in Round 21.
NZ Warriors 48 (A Paasi 3, D Bhana 2, F Mateo, A Papalii, A Vete tries; C Townsend 8 goals) def. North Sydney Bears 12 (J Roberts, N Neale tries; K Aldridge 2 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium.