Warriors off to finals as Eels lose 28-6 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors off to finals as Eels lose 28-6

By David Beniuk 06/09/2008 10:35:10 PM Comments (0)

An astonishing Parramatta Stadium turnaround from New Zealand Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei ensured his side will be a part of the NRL finals action next week.

The Warriors downed Parramatta 28-6 as Vatuvei bagged a hat-trick of tries on the same ground where he played his infamous shocker in round 11 last year, dropping every ball he got his hands on in a 30-6 loss.

The giant winger had put that nightmare behind him by the third minute when he got his first before scoring again either side of halftime to have the Warriors leading 18-6 after 48 minutes.

The visitors went on to score five tries to one in front of 5102 fans clearly angry at the Eels' lacklustre 2008.

As well as Vatuvei's hat-trick, the Warriors' points came through a try double to Brent Tate with Michael Witt booting four from six.

For the dispirited Eels, Kris Keating scored a try with Luke Burt kicking a goal.

The Warriors sealed their place in next week's play-offs by moving to 30 points, two ahead of Newcastle who had opened the door for the Kiwi side with Friday night's 24-2 loss to Brisbane.

The Auckland-based side will finish seventh or eighth, depending on the outcome of Sunday's match between Canberra and the Bulldogs with the Knights now only the slightest mathematical chance.

Parramatta, considered real contenders when the season got underway, are likely to limp out a disappointing 10th.

Vatuvei crashed over out wide in just the third minute after a Lance Hohaia bomb was batted down and Nathan Fien sent a smart cut-out ball to the giant winger.

The visitors extended their lead to 8-0 through a 13th minute Witt penalty goal.

The Eels hit back in the 31st minute when winger Burt flashed down the left before a precision centre-kick found halfback Keating with a perfect bounce and the No.7 scored under the posts to cut the margin to two.

Vatuvei got his second five minutes before the break when Witt sent him over with a cut-out ball and the five-eighth's second sideline conversion made it 14-6 to the visitors at halftime.

The winger bagged his third eight minutes after the break when he completed a backline move.

Tate iced the cake in the 60th and 75th minutes, and all that was left for the crowd to enjoy was a bit of ear-pulling from Eels hooker Matthew Keating on Witt which threatened to boil over.

The Warriors have won eight of their last 10 games to reach the finals, with the match their first victory at Parramatta since 1995.

It was Vatuvei's first NRL hat-trick.

"I was kind of looking forward to coming back to Parramatta and turning my game around," he said.

"I only concentrated on catching all the balls this week and I did so I'm proud of myself."

Coach Ivan Cleary also paid tribute to his much-maligned winger.

"He was bagged from pillar to post, not just that night but consistently after that as well," Cleary said.

"He had one bad night ... it would have buried a lot of people what he had to go through so he's mentally very strong."

The Warriors will play either Melbourne or Manly in week one of the finals.

Asked if his side could make an impact on the premiership from eighth, Cleary said: "It's going to happen some day.

"It's not a bad position when you think about it, you go into a game where no-one will give you a chance."

Parramatta coach Michael Hagan wasn't as optimistic about the opposition.

"I think they'll be up against it next week," he said.

"But they're certainly a team that if they could execute their sets as well as they did tonight they would stay in the contest for a big part of it."

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