Ropati inspires Auckland triumph

Warrington 28 Auckland Warriors 56
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The Independent Online
Auckland Warriors, with Tea Ropati equalling the club record of four tries in a match, completed their rehabilitation trip to Britain with another impressive victory. They had arrived on a long losing streak, but it was hard to square that with some of the memorable rugby to which they subjected a game but outclassed Warrington.

Auckland scored first, Gene Ngamu flashing through Warren Stevens' tackle, but there was a rapid and commendable reply when Mark Forster showed great strength to drive his way over in the corner for a try that was converted to level the scores.

So far so good, but inevitable doubts over whether Warrington could maintain their effort proved well founded when Stacey Jones and Steve Kearney sent Ropati over. Then Ngamu's cross-kick dropped into Sean Hoppe's hands and Kearney arrived to finish the move.

Ropati went over for his second but there was another quality response from Warrington with Shelford go in for a try that revived their hopes before half-time. Those hopes did not survive long into the second half, Ngamu's enormous pass looping over Lee Briers for Ropati to claim his third.

Ropati thought he had a fourth soon after, but the massive Joe Vagana chose to dummy to him and go over for the try himself. If Warrington could not score enough points, the ones they did collect came in style, Richard Henare and Sculthorpe linking gloriously for Willie Swann to cross the try line against his old club. On a night of family connections, though, his brother Anthony Swann soon hit back for Auckland after Hoppe had caught Ngamu's kick.

Warrington kept at it with Henare leaping to take another kick and touch down, but then Jones sent Ropati in for the fourth try he threatened. Anthony Swann and Matthew Ridge completed Auckland's scoring before Briers wriggled over for a try that made the final score almost respectable by the standards of this competition.

The scoreline that really matters, though, is the one that shows the southern hemisphere's margin of superiority over the north in the first phase of the World Club Championships; 27-3, which looks like a rugby score in itself.

Warrington: Roper; R Henare, Finau, N Vagana, Forster; Shelford, Briers; Chambers, W Swann, Stevens, Geritas, Tatupu, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: Penny, Kohe-Love, Thorniley, Wainwright.

Auckland: Ridge; Hoppe, Ropati, A Swann, Ellis; Ngalu, Jones; J Vagana, Noovao, Malam, Tuimavave, Kearney, Betts. Substitutes used: L Swann, Staladi, Horo, B Henare.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).