Check out some of the action from the day two clash.
A perfect three-from-three record has launched the New Zealand Warriors into the NRL Auckland Nines quarter-finals at Eden Park.
The home side had the crowd in raptures again on the way to completing pool play with a 28-23 victory in a pulsating encounter with North Queensland.
The win gave the Vodafone Warriors the honour of becoming the only side so far to win all three matches – only Penrith can emulate the feat – and they also knocked up the highest score of the event.
The influence of captain Shaun Johnson and ultra-skilful new signing Sam Tomkins couldn’t be missed; as expected their combined contribution has been at the hinge of the team’s effort throughout.
Given their star standing other players in the squad have slipped under the radar a little but they’ve all been putting their hands up. On that score Sebastine Ikahihifo was the standout against the Cowboys, all muscularity and aggression with and without the ball.
His offensive defence was impossible to miss and he produced two magical moments to score tries; the first when he caught the Cowboys unaware from a quick penalty and ran 40 metres through the middle of the park to score a five pointer; the second when he twisted and muscled his way over early in the second half.
The contest was all over the place, brimming with attacking football throughout.
For the third match on end the Vodafone Warriors fielded the kick-off and this time they didn’t turn the ball over. They made all the early inroads, won a penalty and Ikahihifo ran away from everyone for his first try. Johnson’s conversion made it 7-0.
All too soon the Cowboys had responded, attacking from depth. James Tamou threw out a sweet pass and winger Feldt was all class scoring in the corner. That made it 7-4.
This was a half of high octane football and all-out attack as the Vodafone Warriors then put their passes together on the left side for Carlos Tuimevave to score wide out. No conversion this time and it was 11-4.
The Cowboys were giving plenty as well. They fired up to stretch the Vodafone Warriors’ left edge, Antonio Winterstein bouncing up after being half-checked and going over to cut the margin to 11-8.
The Warriors can spark up in a blink and did so again going to their left side, a teasing kick bouncing in-goal for Ngani Laumape to score.
By halftime the Vodafone Warriors led 15-8 after a nine-minute term which delivered five tries.
After Ikahihifo’s second try had taken the Vodafone Warriors out to a 21-8 lead there was a concerning lapse as the Cowboys scored twice to trail just 19-21 with ample time left in this short form of the game to spring an upset.
Not to be. “Magic Johnson” dipped into his bag of tricks to carve the Cowboys up, racing away to dot down in the bonus zone for his third try in three games. That was the game.