Vatuvei hat-trick as Warriors maul Souths - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Vatuvei hat-trick as Warriors maul Souths

By David Beniuk 24/07/2011 06:11:04 PM Comments (0)

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary was more than happy to deflect any thoughts of glory to the five clubs above his on the NRL ladder, even after a 48-16 shellacking of South Sydney on Sunday - a third straight victory.

The Warriors earned themselves some breathing space from a chasing pack of four clubs after two spots at the bottom of the top eight, with the nine tries to three drubbing that all but put Souths out of business in 2011.

The Auckland side, who sit outright sixth on the ladder, perhaps also made a statement after all the talk that only Melbourne, Manly, St George Illawarra, Brisbane and, possibly, North Queensland, can win the competition this season.

It wasn't a statement Cleary was keen to make himself.

"I think it's fair enough that the top four, or the top five really, are getting all the attention," he said after Sunday's ANZ Stadium clash.

"Certainly last weekend the top sides sort of flexed their muscles and made a statement so it's only natural that everyone would make that comment.

"They've earned that right ... I think that's justified."

Justified too, though, would be talk the Warriors might be 2011's fast finishers, something they proved they could be in making the semi-final from eighth in 2007.

"It's won in September," Cleary said.

"Our focus is just on making sure we keep improving and, if we do that, then hopefully we can get in the eight.

"If you get in the eight then hopefully, if you're playing well and your squad's fit, you can give yourself a chance."

Souths coach John Lang saw first hand the destructive power of Cleary's men, led by half James Maloney and interchange weapon Feleti Mateo, and he wasn't writing off their chances either.

"Often there's a smokey, the side who comes through late in the season," Lang said.

"If they do that, I think they'd be one of the sides who could challenge."

Giant Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei bagged a hat-trick, including two second half tries within three minutes, as his side led 18-0 after 15 minutes and 24-4 at halftime.

It was as good as over at the break despite Souths scoring either side of halftime through Dylan Farrell, who grabbed a double, and Chris McQueen in a short-lived revival in front of just 11,208 fans.

But 24-10 was as close as the Rabbitohs would get with the Warriors storming home with four of the last five tries.

Warriors centre Joel Moon also bagged a double, while outstanding five-eighth Maloney scored one, had a hand in four others and booted six from nine.

Bill Tupou, Shaun Johnson and Pita Godinet scored the visitors' other tries

"That first half, it was surreal," Lang said. "I really felt we could come back into the game.

"(But) it was pretty poor, probably that last 30 minutes."

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