The New Zealand Warriors produced an astonishing 72-point turnaround to surge into outright third on the ladder with a 28-0 shutout of the Wyong Roos at Mount Smart Stadium.
Last round, a depleted line-up was trounced 52-8 by Canterbury-Bankstown in the Warriors’ first home defeat of the season.
The home side was able to draw on more experience for their encounter with the Roos, welcoming back regular-captain John Palavi and centre Matt Allwood from ankle injuries.
Also returning from time with the Warriors NRL squad were hooker Siliva Havili and back rower Dominique Peyroux; Havili had played in the club’s last two matches against Newcastle and South Sydney while Peyroux was 18th man in first grade against the Rabbitohs last week.
The changes had an expected and immediate effect as the Warriors settled into their work swiftly, gaining good field position and creating pressure regularly.
It paid dividends with cleverly worked back-to-back tries from close range for powerful front rower Daniel Palavi who appeared in just his fifth match over the past two seasons in the VB NSW Cup.
He hadn’t scored a try in his previous four outings but came up with an impressive double strike to put the Warriors on track with an early 12-0 lead. By halftime it was 18-0 through a Peyroux try with all three tries being converted by Mason Lino.
Facing a Wyong side including ex-junior Warriors Omar Slaimankhel and Abraham Papalii, the Warriors put together a quality first-40 minutes, not least with their defensive efficiency and execution.
The tone continued in the second half as Peyroux sent left wing Viliami Kaveinga over for his fourth try of the season before Fusitu’a finished off the scoring to extend his impressive record with his sixth try in five games this season.
By the time Fusitu’a scored towards the final minutes of the contest, there was only one priority for coach Stacey Jones and the team – to shutout the Roos.
Any sort of win after such a heavy loss a week earlier would have been rewarding enough for the Warriors but keeping Wyong scoreless was the most pleasing aspect of the victory.
The result leaves the Warriors alone in third on 18 points with an 8-5 record, just a point behind the Mounties and four behind competition-leader Penrith.
Since their first bye last month, the Warriors have had two wins and a loss as they now head into their second bye. They’re back at home for a tough test against Mounties on June 27 followed by another bye.
NZ Warriors 28 (Daniel Palavi 2, Dominique Peyroux, Viliami Kaveinga, David Fusitu'a tries; Mason Lino 4 goals) bt Wyong Roos 0