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Fullback Brent Webb and left winger Francis Meli each bagged three-try treats as the Vodafone Warriors put 11 tries on the New Zealand President?s Selection at North Harbour Stadium today.
In their second and last pre-season trial ahead of their 2005 NRL campaign, the Vodafone Warriors were predictably untroubled by an untried combination as they won 58-6 before a crowd of 7000.
The President?s side, co-coached by John Ackland and Tawera Nikau, included a number of players with Vodafone Warriors links including four from their 2005 NRL training squad in wingers Cooper Vuna and Rowan Baxter, fullback Toshio Laiseni and centre Simon Mannering.
But the Vodafone Warriors, able to call on most of their heavy artillery, put on six tries in the first half to lead 34-0 and then added another five in the second 40 minutes.
There was some consolation for their opponents when, with the score reading 46-0, they avoided going scoreless with a smart try to big forward and former French international Artie Shaw. It came courtesy of a nice off load from his brother Phil.
While the Vodafone Warriors were out to a 6-0 lead after just six minutes ? Tony Martin racing 50 metres after picking up a loose ball ? they encountered considerable resistance for the rest of the first quarter until the 22-minute mark.
Then Stacey Jones, Brent Webb, Awen Guttenbeil and Clinton Toopi were all involved in putting Meli across for the first of his three tries.
By the time half-time arrived, another four tries had been added by Webb, Jerome Ropati, Tevita Latu and Lance Hohaia. Jones converted each of the first five tries ? a couple from decent angles ? before having his only miss trying to convert Hohaia?s try.
Latu made an immediate impact coming off the bench, first with a try when he backed up a long raid. Jones started it by setting Meli free, the halfback was in support for a return pass and quickly shifted the ball on for Latu to scamper over in his first match since shoulder surgery last year.
Four minutes later, right on half-time, Latu darted from dummy half, held the defence up and put Hohaia through a hole for the first of his two tries.
The half wasn?t without anxiety when captain Monty Betham and Richard Villasanti clashed heads, leaving both damaged. Betham needed stitches in a head wound but later returned to the field while Villasanti sat out the rest of the match.
With such a commanding lead, head coach Tony Kemp decided not to use Jones or second rower Ruben Wiki in the second half, leaving them on the bench. Nathan Fien, who had started at hooker, switched to halfback for the entire second half.
A heavy defeat seemed certain when Webb and Hohaia scored in the 10th and 16th minutes to stretch the lead to 46-0 but the match had only eight minutes to run before the Vodafone Warriors scored again (by which time Shead had dotted down for the opposition).
In a matter of a few minutes first Webb and then Meli completed their triple try-scoring feats to ensure the margin was a healthy one.
VODAFONE WARRIORS 58 (Brent Webb 3, Francis Meli 3, Lance Hohaia 2, Tony Martin, Tevita Latu, Jeroma Ropati tries; Stacey Jones 5 goals; Lance Hohaia 2 goals).
NZ PRESIDENT?S SELECTION 6 (Artie Shead try; Ben Lythe goal).
Referee: Dave Pakieto.