The NZ Warriors have booked themselves a spot in the NRL Top 8 for 2008, firing at Parramatta Stadium to break a long running hoodoo of losses since 1995. The Warriors running out easy winners over the home side 28-6.
Making the win even sweeter for the Warriors, the fact that big winger Manu Vatuvei buried his demons from Parramatta Stadium from last year – getting himself 3 tries early on to setup the big away with for the New Zealand side.
The big mobile winger getting 2 tries in the first half and getting the Warriors off to an ideal 2nd half start with an early try to make it a triple for himself.Not only was their poor showing on the field a concern for the Eels, off the field they couldn’t get a fan through the gate. A crowd of just on 5,000 turning up in what must be severe danger signs for club officials as they plan for 2009.
Joining in the party for the NZ Warriors side, outside back Brent Tate having a good showing and getting himself a double and former Eel Michael Witt playing strong and proving successful with the boot.
For the struggling Eels, Kris Keating touched down for a solitary try in the first term and Luke Burt potted the conversion.
The Warriors are now guaranteed a spot in next weeks finals series, earning themselves the right by finishing on 30 NRL competition points, edging out the inconsolable Newcastle side who hiccuped against the Brisbane Broncos last night,
The Warriors should now finish in 7th or 8th spot, the final spot will be confirmed once the Canberra and Bulldogs clash completes tomorrow; with the Knights now only the absolute slightest mathematical possibility of sneaking into the Top 8.
Parramatta, who have been inconsistent for most of 2008 are more than likely to end the disappointing year in 10th spot on the NRL Ladder.
It was always going to be the NZ Warriors’ night after the unpredictable Manu Vatuvei barged his way over out the try line on the fringes after only 3 minutes, following Lance Hohaia towering bomb that was tapped back by the Warriors, allowing utility Nathan Fien to fire a quality cut-out ball to the rampaging flanker.
The Warriors jumping to 8-0 with a 13th minute Witt penalty goal.
The Eels showed a glimmer of hope in the 31st minute after the speedy Luke Burt got some space on the left flank before a nice in-field kick setup no.7 Keating to score; the Eels rookie getting a good bounce and bringing the home side within 2 points.
The massive Vatuvei was at it again soon after, this time getting over the line just before the half time break. It was another superb passing display with Michael Witt sent cutting out several of his own runners and finding the NZ winger to get him team out to a 14-6 lead as the teams broke for oranges.
The winger getting a triple for his work after only 8 minutes of the second term when he was the final man on a nice Warriors sweeping attack play.
Brent Tate gave his team even more confidence heading into next weeks finals, with scores in the 60th and 75th minutes, and all that was left for the crowd to enjoy was a bit of push and shove from Eels hooker Matthew Keating on former team mate Michael Witt which got heated.
The Warriors have now been victorious in 8 of their last 10 games to qualify for the NRL finals, their runaway win tonight at Parramatta the first since 1995.