WARILLA remain unbeaten in the 2014 Group 7 first grade competition after a 44-12 win over a spirited Port Kembla at Cec Glenholmes Oval on Sunday.
While the score line flattered the home side, Port showed in patches that they could be more than a nuisance for the rest of the season.
There was plenty of starch in both defensive lines in the game’s opening stages as both sides looked to set the tone for the match.
The visitors were more than holding their own against their more fancied opponents until an early penalty put the Gorillas on the attack, and they capitalised when Jarryd Pepper crossed out wide to make it 4-nil.
Warilla were then gifted another prime opportunity when the Blacks put the ball out on the full on the ensuing kick-off, but they couldn’t extend their lead.
Not dismayed by falling behind early, the Blacks continued their spirited start to the game and opened their account when a bust by Tane Sturmey allowed Mark Simon to race away and score under the posts.
Josh Windisch’s conversion gave Port the lead at 6-4.
Simon did his best to engineer another try for his side with a 40/20 in the next set but Warilla showed why they’re one of the group’s best defensive sides as they stifled the Blacks’ goal-line attack.
After coming close to extending their lead, the Blacks’ fortunes quickly turned as they conceded a string of penalties to allow Warilla back into the game and the home side regained the lead when Ryan Johnston crashed over for a converted try.
The Gorillas seemed to be finding their groove and the right–hand side attack of Tyson Brown and Pepper was causing the Blacks plenty of headaches, made evident when Pepper raced away to grab his second and give his side a 14-6 lead at half-time.
The start of the second half mirrored the first as both sides came out of the sheds with plenty of enthusiasm.
The Blacks were rewarded for their efforts with a string of early penalties and cut the lead to two when Simon burrowed over for a converted try.
While the lead was cut to two, Warilla showed little concern and soon found themselves deep in the Blacks’ half of the field where a deflected grubber kicked bounced perfectly for Damien Paulissen to cross the line, Nick Lazarevski’s conversion pushing the score to 20-12.
Paulissen’s try seemed to take break much of the Blacks’ spirits and the Gorillas blew the score with three straight converted tries to Pepper, Paulinssen and Jesse Dee, the last being a fine solo effort by the young five-eighth.
Paulissen then capped the game with his third try of the game, Lazarevski converting to round at the score at 44-12.
For Warilla, Pepper, Paulissen and Johnston all had strong performances, while Sturmey, Simon and Josh Edwards did all they could for Port Kembla.