Vatuvei trio helps Warriors beat Sharks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Vatuvei trio helps Warriors beat Sharks

By Nicky Park 20/03/2010 11:25:56 PM Comments (0)

A Manu Vatuvei hat-trick helped the Warriors notch their maiden win for the 2010 NRL season and extend Cronulla's losing streak to a sorry dozen matches on Saturday.

Vatuvei's impressive performance at Mt Smart Stadium backed up his opening-round brilliance, when he bagged two tries in a 24-18 loss to Gold Coast.

The big winger has now scored 10 tries in his last six matches, taking the 24-year-old's career total to 63 from 96 matches.

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary said Vatuvei had been under-rated as a player following a horror 2007 match against Parramatta that saw him cop flak for dropping the ball six times.

"He's got better hands than he's been given credit for over the years," Cleary said.

"He's got an incredibly strong character and that goes back probably to 2007 when he was basically ridiculed in the league.

"A lot of guys wouldn't have been able to handle what was thrown at him."

Playing their first home game of the year, the Warriors recovered after giving up an early 16-0 lead to run in two unanswered second-half tries to continue the Sharks' woes.

An aggressive start from the Warriors, reminiscent of the up-tempo opening against Gold Coast last week, saw the hosts pile on three tries in the opening 20 minutes.

Hooker Aaron Heremaia opened the scoring with an easy try from dummy-half before Vatuvei capitalised on a break by second rower Lewis Brown to add the Warriors' second.

On his debut as skipper, Simon Mannering pounced on a well-placed grubber from Lance Hohaia in the 17th minute and the Warriors looked on their way to a comfortable win.

But, mirroring their collapse in last week's 24-18 loss to the Titans, the Warriors ran out of steam toward the end of the first half, allowing Cronulla to close the gap to just two points at the break.

First, winger Luke Covell crossed for the Sharks and then centre Blake Ferguson, with halfback Scott Porter converting both from the sideline and then adding a penalty to leave the Warriors 16-14 ahead at halftime.

Porter landed another goal early in the second half to tie the scores before Vatuvei swung the match the Warriors' way with two tries in six minutes.

Prop Sam Rapira sealed the victory when he forced his way over with six minutes to go.

The Warriors travel to Brisbane next weekend to tackle the Broncos, while the Sharks host fellow winless cellar dwellers South Sydney.

The Warriors will be without halfback Brett Seymour, who missed Saturday night's game against his former club after being ruled out for six weeks with a broken thumb.

Cleary said it was a massive blow to lose his star player so early in the season.

"He's gone through so much to get out doing what he loves doing most," Cleary said.

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