BY Nicholas Janzen
A super-slick left-side attack propelled the Warriors to a promising and powerful victory over Wentworthville in the Auckland-based side’s first home match for 2015.
Stacey Jones’ side displayed enough athletic attack and bruising defence despite some incompletions to record a 24-point victory, a result that leaves the Magpies winless to start the season.
The ever-inconsistent Warriors started the match with a bang – a smart right-to-left shift sending Jarrod Tua over the line in the sixth minute – but undid all their work soon after following an ill-judged pass that eventually saw Wentworthville back-rower Joseph Ualesi crash over.
At six-all the match looked set to become an arm-wrestle and a battle for field position – until a three-try onslaught from the home side saw them skip to a seemingly unassailable 22-6 lead.
Former New Zealand international Siliva Havili started the scoring run with a dart from dummy-half that caught the Magpies unaware, before an Api Pewhairangi grubber put comeback-man and former assistant coach George Carmont over.
Pewhairangi threw himself into more action just moments later, supporting a break in the middle of the field that, the play later, resulted in Tua collecting his second.
A poor attempted tackle from Warriors halfback Sam Cook saw Magpies utility Fabian Goodall crash over, with Luke Kelly’s second conversion making it 22-12 and it was game on – but only for a brief period.
Wenty looked to be surging back into the contest at the back end of the first half, and looked set to score from a kick. Those thoughts, however, were quickly erased as soon after explosive Warriors back-rower James Bell burst clear and sent Pewhairangi on a course to the try line. At 26-12 entering the break – a 12-point turnaround from what looked likely to occur just seconds earlier – the result was all but sealed.
The home side shot out of the blocks early on in the second half with Carmont first-up taking advantage of some retreating Wentworthville defence. Front-rower Sebastine Ikahihifo backed over shortly after and, when Pewhairangi finished off a great team movement, the score was 44-12 and looked likely to become even more one-sided.
The visitors however, defeated by North Sydney and Wests Tigers in the weeks before, were determined to add some respectability to the final scoreline. A length-of-the-field try to Magpies winger Bureta Faraimo, the VB NSW Cup Player of the Year in 2014, and another consolation effort finished by Halauafu Lavaka added some – but this finished very much lopsided.
Pewhairangi, Carmont, Havili and back-rower-turned-centre Dominique Peyroux all were excellent for the hosts. With a lethal line-up that also includes the devastation offered by power forwards Ikahihifo and NRL cult hero Suaia Matagi, the Warriors are firming as 2015 VB NSW Cup premiership dark horses.
The Magpies, meanwhile, will need to rediscover their late-season form of 2014 quickly if they’re any chance of making an impact in 2015.
WARRIORS 44 (J Tua 2, G Carmont 2, A Pewhairangi 2, S Havili, S Ikahihifo tries; Pewhairangi 6 goals) bt WENTWORTHVILLE MAGPIES 20 (J Ualesi, F Goodall, B Faraimo, H Lavaka tries; L Kelly 2 goals)