Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs handed the New Zealand Warriors their first home defeat of the season storming to a 52-8 victory on Saturday at Mount Smart Stadium.
The Warriors went into the game lying third on the ladder with a record showing five straight wins at home, the latest a 28-22 victory over Newcastle last Sunday.
If they were to make it six on end, they were to do so without 2015 regulars Ken Maumalo, Dominique Peyroux and Sebastine Ikahihifo, who all travelled to Perth for the NRL side’s encounter with South Sydney. They also lost highly promising prop Toafofoa Sipley who was taken from the field with a knee injury in his debut last week while the likes of Sione Lousi, John Palavi and Matt Allwood remain on the injury list.
Warriors coach Stacey Jones was forced to dip further into the Auckland club competition to field a side. Arden McCarthy was again in the centres and was joined by Stedman Lefau, Daniel Palavi and Kouma Samson; the latter back home after a season in France following his premiership-winning involvement with the Junior Warriors last year.
Of the 17 players Jones named, 15 were graduates from the club’s NYC side (or still eligible in the case of wing Paul Ulberg and debutant hooker Nathaniel Roache).
Initially there was no hint of the tough result that lay ahead as the young Warriors side put themselves in position to open the scoring and duly did, halfback Mason Lino pouncing on a spilled bomb to score his side’s first try.
That would be the beginning and end of it with the Bulldogs responding swiftly with two tries to take the lead and ignite a scoring spree.
The chief beneficiary was wing Tyrone Phillips, who feasted on the opportunities that came his way all too often on the right edge. He was given an easy passage to the line for two tries in the first half and had two more in the second half, although he had to work a little harder for them.
The Bulldogs scored five tries in the first 40 minutes while the only other points the Warriors managed came from a Lino penalty after the halftime siren.
The second half produced two quick strikes for the visitors to take the lead to 40-8. The Warriors were able to stem the flow for a long period only to yield two late tries.
It was the second big defeat for the Warriors in their last three games. With playing resources affected by the club’s injury toll, they went down 48-6 to Wentworthville on May 16, recovered to beat the Knights last week but have now slumped to another heavy loss.
Despite the results they remain in contact with the top of the table with the second-placed Mounties also losing. The Warriors are fifth and could still be just two points off the lead in the congested competition, while the Bulldogs now sit in seventh position.
Canterbury Bulldogs 52 (T Phillips 4, D Chisholm 2, D Minute, D Cook, L Dodd, S Lane tries; C Stanley 6 goals) beat NZ Warriors 8 (M Lino try; Lino 2 goals)