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Match Report - Round 4 2004

Warriors open account

www.news.com.au , 5 Apr '04

IT's taken four weeks, but the New Zealand Warriors have finally cracked it for a win – and a smile.

They Warriors weren't back to their best at Brookvale Oval today, but they did enough to end their winless start to the NRL season with a 28-10 victory over a listless Manly.

"You've got to crack a smile," Warriors coach Daniel Anderson said afterwards.

"There's been a lot of frowning in the first three rounds. We can smile for the next hour or so. It was a solid performance."

The Warriors led 6-4 at halftime and ran over the top of the Sea Eagles in the second half as experienced forwards Jerry Seuseu, Richard Villasanti and Ali Lauiti'iti began to feast on a succession of Manly errors.

Rookie back rower Epalahame Lauaki, playing only his fourth game, also produced an eye-catching performance, scoring two tries and trading verbal blows with Manly's John Hopoate.

"I was just talking in Tongan to him and letting him know I am Tongan as well," the quietly-spoken Lauaki said.

He wasn't the only person on the field to get on the wrong side of Hopoate.

The former NSW and Australian forward was engaged in a running battle with referee Paul Simpkins most of the second half and finished the match in the sin-bin after questioning why Simpkins had become a whistleblower.

"The weight of possession is against you and things don't work, that leads to frustration and frustration turns into lack of discipline," Manly coach Des Hasler said.

"I guess that discipline was more through lack of frustration.

"John will be spoken to. He knows it's quite unacceptable. He's got enough experience and enough guile to realise it is unacceptable.

"As I said I think it was borne more out of frustration."

The Warriors had the better of the opening half but went to the break with only a Lauiti'iti try to show for it.

But they looked a different side in the second stanza and took the game by the scruff of the neck in the 50th minute when fullback Brent Webb crossed for the first of his two tries.

The Warriors added a four-pointer three minutes later through Lauaki, who finished off a brilliant team try involving Clinton Toopi and Henry Fa'afili.

Lauaki was in again in the 72nd minute before Webb scored another trademark Warriors effort involving Sione Faumuina, Lauiti'iti, Tony Martin and Vinnie Anderson.

"He was very unlucky not to play last year," Anderson said of Lauaki.

"We didn't really give him an opportunity to play last year. No-one's form dropped. This year the window came open for him and I think he's grabbed it with both hands."

Anderson was also delighted with the performance of his senior players after a victory that moved the Warriors off the bottom of the table – a place where the Sea Eagles now reside.

"We said at halftime, the young blokes provide plenty of enthusiasm and they provide a bit of spark but it's the senior players and old hardheads ... they're the ones who have to bring us home in games," he said.

"I thought Ali, Stacey (Jones) and Awen (Guttenbeil) all contributed to the second half. Webby's had a very good second half, these are the guys who are going to win games for us."

Warriors five-eighth Jerome Ropati finished the match with a jaw injury and will have further tests when he returns to New Zealand.

NZ WARRIORS 28
(E Lauaki 2 B Webb 2 A Lauiti'iti tries S Famuina 4 goals) bt

MANLY 10
(P Stephenson A Watmough tries A Walker goal)

at Brookvale Oval.

Referee: P Simpkins.

Crowd: 8722.

TEAM:

1 - Andrew WALKER
2 - Scott DONALD
3 - Albert TORRENS
4 - Paul STEPHENSON
5 - Chris HICKS
6 - Jye MULLANE
7 - Michael MONAGHAN
8 - Daniel HECKENBERG
9 - Chad RANDALL
10- Ian DONNELLY
11- Sam HARRIS
12- John HOPOATE
13- Luke WILLIAMSON

14- Jason King
16- Anthony WATMOUGH
17- Kylie LEULUAI
18 - Kane CLEAL