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Rotorua Trial – Voadfone Warriors 24, Parramatta 4

Rotorua Trial – Voadfone Warriors 24, Parramatta 4

Rotorua, New Zealand, February 12, 2011 – After starting their 2011 trial programme with an at-times rusty performance against Newcastle, the Vodafone Warriors showed marked improvement in beating the Parramatta Eels 24-4 in today’s NRL trial at Rotorua’s International Stadium.

Among a host of players who impressed in front of a big crowd of about 10,000 was the imposing Manu Vatuvei, scoring a trademark bulldozing try in the opening minutes.

Given a little room near Parramatta’s line, Vatuvei was in his element as he smashed his way through his opposite Esi Uaisele, the collision too much for Uaisele who immediately left the field.

Lurking on the other wing today was new signing Krisnan Inu who, in the 28th minute, climbed superbly to effortlessly snare an Aaron Heremaia bomb, his first for his new club and appropriately enough scored against his former team-mates.

At 8-0 early in the second quarter, the Vodafone Warriors had a useful foundation to build on but minutes later they stumbled as Parramatta halfback Jeff Robson broke the line with ease, leading to a short side try to second rower Taniera Lasalo moments later to leave the Eels just 4-8 down at the break. It would be the Eels’ only try on a day when the Vodafone Warriors were in no mood to show the generosity they did on defence in Greymouth last week.

The third quarter effectively tilted the trial well in the Vodafone Warriors’ favour as first-year NRL player Glen Fisiiahi, alternating between fullback and the wing, showed off his try-scoring prowess yet again with two strikes in 12 minutes. They took the Vodafone Warriors out to a healthy 20-4 lead as Fisiiahi lifted his tally to four tries in his first two NRL trials.

Close to fulltime Lewis Brown, on the field for the full 80 minutes in the second row and then centres, scored from a penalty close to Parramatta’s line to finish the scoring.

If the improved quality of the overall performance and the end result were pleasing, the coaching staff was also handed more encouraging evidence of the depth in the squad in most positions.

The Vodafone Warriors had gone into this trial without several of their top squad including captain Simon Mannering, Kiwi fullback Lance Hohaia, new buy Shaun Berrigan and suspended halfback Brett Seymour plus Feleti Mateo and Joel Moon, both on All Stars duty. Also out of the match was the club’s 2010 young NRL player of the year James Maloney, ruled out through illness.

Maloney’s absence resulted in eight-game NRL playmaker Isaac John making his return after knee surgery last year, forming an inexperienced starting halves combination with utility Elijah Taylor. Both answered the call as did another NRL tyro Pita Godinet when he was injected into the game late in the first half. Also impressing were hookers Aaron Heremaia and Alehana Mara, both providing a real threat with their work out of dummy half.

In his first game if the year after a shoulder operation, centre Jerome Ropati played 65 minutes straight while Vatuvei was given an ovation when he was rested for the day after 55 busy minutes.

Referees Matt Cecchin and Gavin Reynolds were also dominant figures in the match, blowing a total of 19 penalties, many for play the ball infringements. At one point the count favoured the Eels 8-3 before it finished 10-9 in their favour.

Match details:
At International Stadium, Rotorua
Vodafone Warriors 24 (Glen Fisiiahi 2, Manu Vatuvei, Krisnan Inu, Lewis Brown tries; Krisnan Inu 2 conversions).
Parramatta Eels 4 (Taniera Lasalo try).
Halftime: 8-4 Vodafone Warriors.
Referees: Matt Cecchin and Gavin Reynolds.
Crowd: 10,000.
Team: Kevin Locke; Krisnan Inu, Ben Henry, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei; Elijah Taylor, Isaac John; Ben Matulino, Aaron Heremaia, Russell Packer; Sione Lousi, Lewis Brown; Micheal Luck (c). Interchange: Steve Rapira, Ukuma Ta’ai, Sam Rapira, Matt Robinson, Alehana Mara, Pita Godinet, Glen Fisiiahi, Jeremy Latimore, Jacob Lillyman.


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