By Patrick Molihan at Hunter Stadium
‘HOT potato’ football is the theme for the Warriors’ VB NSW Cup side under new coach Stacey Jones and with three late tries they certainly burnt the Knights as they opened the season with a 26-18 win against Newcastle on Saturday.
Fullback Viliami Kaveinga claimed man-of-the-match honours with a crucial late try to get the visitors back into the match after they’d trailed 18-12.
Kaveinga’s day started horribly when he was slow to secure a grubber from Newcastle halfback Danny Kerr and rookie centre Josh Allison pounced.
Yet after the sides traded tries it was Kaveinga who presented most headaches for the Knights in attack and with less than 14 minutes on the clock he looked all class as he sliced through out wide to finish off a good try with the Warriors clicking up a gear to post two more and take the points.
“That’s what we want to play – like hot potato football – keep it alive,” said Kaveinga.
“It’s good having the ‘Little General’ (Jones) as coach. He’s calm and he just wants us to keep it simple and play the way we want.
“We’ve still got a lot to work on but it’s nice to get that first win out of the way and we’ll go from there.”
For Kaveinga it was a tough start to what proved to eventually be a good day at the office and it’s sure to prove a confidence builder for the 20-year-old Mangere East Hawks product after a horrid run with injury.
The Junior Warriors 2013 Clubman Of The Year, Viliami missed much of last year with a hamstring injury.
While he made a return to NYC action late in the season, the problem flared again but he showed no sign of the injury against the Knights.
“Yeah it was nice to get through a full game,” he said.
“I came back late last year but injured it again so hopefully I can get a bit of a run going now.”
The Warriors had trailed 6-0 early but a strong try to lock James Bell and another to centre Matthew Allwood gave the Warriors a 12-6 lead at the break.
Danny Kerr stepped back inside some poor defence seven minutes after the break to tie it up but in a blow for the Knights they lost aggressive and talkative fullback Nathan Ross with half an hour to play after he copped a high shot.
Despite the setback the Newcastle side came again with a strong try to replacement Jake Fin as he carried four defenders over from close range to score as they took an 18-12 lead.
Unfortunately the Knights ran out of steam as the Warriors slotted into stride with tries to Kaveinga, big backrower Sione Lousi and Ireland international and former Knight’s five-eighth Api Pewhairangi.
Warriors 26 (J Bell, M Allwood, V Kaveinga, S Lousi, A Pewhairangi tries; Pewhairangi 2, S Cook goals) d Newcastle 18 (J Allison, D Kerr, J Finn tries; D Kerr 3 goals).