The Wyong Roos maintained their perfect win-loss sequence of the opening five rounds when they eked out a 42-6 victory over the second-placed Warriors on a spongy Morry Breen Oval.
Although Rip Taylor’s men fell behind early, they lead 12-6 at halftime. They extended their lead dramatically during the game’s final 15 minutes as the visitors fell away.
New Zealand had the better of the opening exchanges and forged an early 6-0 advantage when Nathaniel Peteru ran off his dummy half Siliva Havili from close range. The advantage could have been greater when in the 12th minute classy pivot Api Pewhairangi trapped an attacking Wyong grubber to race away up the eastern touchline before being chased down and thrown across the sideline by Roos skipper Mitch Williams.
The scores were drawn level in the 15th minute when Tyler Cornish threaded a last-tackle grubber kick off the outside of his right boot for Mitch Williams to dart through and score. Wyong nabbed the lead four minutes before the break as Cornish stepped back inside a sliding Warriors defensive line to cross the try-line and take a 12-6 lead into half time.
The game was dead even and despite both sides showing scant regard for possession at times, the outcome of this contest was still undecided at halftime.
Coming out of the halftime sheds, the Warriors again began the half on top but couldn’t execute their opportunities as Wyong kept scrambling in defence. It was an arm wrestle until just beyond the hour mark when Wyong suddenly gained the ascendency. Cornish was again instrumental, sending out a crisp flat ball to a charging Brendan Elliot who charged across to the right of the sticks. Nathan Stapleton slotted the conversion and the board read 18-6.
The flood gates opened during the final fifteen minutes as the Kiwi defence fell apart allowing the Roos to run riot. Brock Molan scooped up another Cornish kick in the 65th minute before Yileen Gordon latched onto an intercept three minutes later to race 75 metres with a cheeky expression well affixed.
Two further tries in the closing six minutes rubbed salt into the Warriors’ wounds. Brendan Elliot dribbled a kick around the fullback before regathering, and then big Leivaha Pulu ran off his dummy half Williams like a south bound train with a timetable to recoup. This absorbing struggle had quickly turned into an emphatic victory for the locals and one needed to do a double take to fully absorb the final score line.
Wyong’s desire had been superb and given they were missing Magnus Stromquist and Nene MacDonald it was a win to be savoured. The Warriors on the other hand looked like world-beaters at times and unfocused at other times. It would be fair to say that the scoreboard showing seven tries wasn’t an accurate reflection of this tight contest.
Wyong Roos 42 (Brendan Elliot 2, Mitch Williams, Tyler Cornish, Brock Molan, Yileen Gordon, Leivaha Pulu tries; Nathan Stapleton 7 goals) bt Warriors 6 (Nathaniel Peteru try; Api Pewhairangi goal)