Highlights: Mounties v Warriors (Finals Week One)
Mounties have built on their recent minor premiership success by completely blowing the New Zealand Warriors off the park 43-10.
The first half saw a fairly even contest in terms of field position and possession, but the second half was a 25-0 one-sided affair that consequently gives Mounties a one-way ticket to the preliminary finals.
Sam Duggan was outstanding for Mounties, while Jeff Lynch proved to be an extremely powerful asset off the bench with two tries.
The opening 10 minutes of the match was set for set, however the Warriors dominated the battle of field position as they had multiple attacking opportunities.
Mounties did not crack, and they were rewarded for their gallant defence when Mitch Cronin scored in their first attacking set courtesy of a Duggan pass.
Mounties received a penalty off the kickoff set, and further piled the pressure on the Warriors after a Josh McCrone grubber could not be handled by Simon Luafalealo and therefore caused a repeat set.
A try to Lynch immediately followed as he charged onto a ball and powered his way through the Warriors defence to plant the ball down under the posts and increase their lead to 12-0.
The Warriors hit back in the 26th minute with a beautiful right to left sweep that was perfectly finished by Ken Maumalo in the left corner.
Some excellent work by Cronin led to Mounties third try of the afternoon, as he very skillfully evaded a defender with a good step, and got the ball out to Stewart Mills who did incredibly well to finish in the corner.
The Warriors were gifted a try as Mounties were coming out of trouble, as a ball from dummy half was thrown into the head of the would-be ball carrier, and the ball re-bounded into the hands of Raymond Talimalie, who simply ran through a gap and planted the ball down.
That try meant that Mounties went into the halftime break with an 18-10 lead.
An explosive start to the second half led to consecutive mid-field scuffles, as well as Mitch Barnett being placed on report and Konrad Hurrell being sent to the sin bin.
Mounties received an offside penalty in their first real attacking opportunity of the second half in the 53rd minute, and Lynch immediately took advantage by charging through the defence on tackle one and scoring his second try of the day.
The experience of Glen Buttriss led to another Mounties try just five minutes later, as he took advantage of some lazy markers on the fifth tackle, put a grubber in for himself and offloaded to McCrone who was lingering in support to increase their lead to 30-10.
Mills believed he had his second try in the 66th minute after Barnett got a pass away after being illegally hit late, but the referee questionably did not allow the advantage to be played but instead award a penalty to Mounties.
It mattered little as Kyle O’Donnell crashed over off the following set thanks to a nice offload by Patrick Mago.
Mounties continued their second-half rampage through Rhys Kennedy, who caught the ball and planted it down to score a simple try after Glen Buttriss found the upright from dummy half with a smart kick.
A Sam Duggan field goal concluded the game; as Mounties now find themselves one win away from the Grand Final with that 43-10 victory.
Mounties 43 (J Lynch 2, S Mills, M Cronin, J McCrone, K O’Donnell, R Kennedy tries; S Duggan 7 goals; Duggan field goal) bt NZ Warriors 10 (K Maumalo, R Talimalie tries; M Hingano goal)