On July 12, at their home turf of Mount Smart stadium, the Vodafone Warriors pulled off a stunner by beating the power pack side ‘Melbourne Storm.’
It was an unexpected victory over a dominant team, and gave hope to a promising season for the Warriors. Since then they have had a horror run, succumbing to their sixth straight defeat to North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday August 22 at the same venue.
The Cowboys remained on a mission to remain on top whilst the Warriors were desperate for a home win to overcome another disappointing finish to the season.
The game started brilliantly for the Warriors, who were ahead as early as the fifth minute, courtesy of a Tuimoala Lolohea try.
Within the next five minutes, Ken Maumalo scored, followed by the third try in the twelfth minute. All of a sudden, after playing some of their best football of the season, they raced to a 16 points lead, convincing their loyal supporters (more than 14,000) to be on their feet with vocal cords cheerfully stretched.
The Warriors appeared to be on the path to a remarkable victory.
Moments later Captain Simon Mannering and Charlie Gubb were involved in a huge shot at New Zealand born Cowboys prop James Tamou to bring the game to a halt.
Tamou was stretchered off much to the delight of the crowd although receiving applause from his teammates. This long stoppage proved to be the defining moment of the match.
The Cowboys regrouped during this extended injury time. The tables had now turned.
The overzealous attack by the Warriors somehow reversed into a state of misery.
They were out rightly smashed by 50 unanswered points from there on, to eventually end the game at 50-16 in favour of the Cowboys.
The thrill and optimism died almost as quickly as it manifested and another promising season vapourised for New Zealand’s only side in the League.
The game was also the last for England International Sam Tomkins who joined the team in 2014 for a record fee.
Coach Andrew McFadden admitted that the Warriors were no match against the Cowboys.
“We obviously started really well, which was positive for us. It is just that we do not have the experience or confidence in our game at the moment,” he said.
Warriors’ injury woes for the season continue, with prop Jacob Lillyman the latest to miss the season with a fractured cheekbone picked up in the first play of the game.
This means the Warriors must field an even weaker team against the Tigers this weekend, their penultimate game of the season.
Warriors 16 (Tuimoala Lolohea, Ken Maumalo, Dominique Peyroux tries; Tuimoala Lolohea 2 goals) Cowboys 50 (Kyle Feldt 3, Johnathan Thurston, Justin O’Neill 2, Ben Spina, Coen Hess, Kane Linnett tries; Johnathan Thurston 7 goals)
- Warriors’ Second Row Lock Ryan Hoffman being tackled by a Cowboys players
- Warriors player Bodene Thompson in action
Pictures for Indian Newslink by Ashok Kochhar