GROUP SEVEN RUGBY LEAGUE
WARILLA went a small way towards easing bitter memories of last year's grand final loss to Gerringong with a clinical 32-6 trouncing of the Lions on Sunday at Cec Glenholmes Oval.
The unbeaten Gorillas were in the mood from the opening whistle, building a 22-0 half-time lead.
Gerringong endured a rare off day, repeatedly turning over possession and failing to mount pressure on Warilla's defence.
The Gorillas proved beyond doubt they are the team to beat in 2014.
"That first half was an exceptional display, but it's still May," Warilla coach Peter Hooper said.
After losing last year's grand final to the Lions by a field goal in extra time, the Gorillas won't get carried away with the decisive win.
"The penalty count was 7-0 against us at half-time, and that's something we can improve, but our defence was outstanding, especially in that first half," Hooper said.
"They were trying to punch holes around the middle and they just didn't get us."
The Gorillas gain confidence each week and are enjoying playing catch-us-if-you-can with the rest of the competition.
"They [players] set their own goals," Hooper said.
"It's not so much what I tell them. That's team-based. It's a pretty easy job to sit back and just direct, and make them aware where they are going right and wrong."
Warilla led 16-0 after tries to Tyson Brown, Chad Lisch and Keiran Rankmore.
Lock Aaron Henry provided the perfect finish to the half, intercepting a Lions pass and sprinting 50 metres to score in the corner. Nick Lazerevski's sideline conversion effectively put Warilla in an unbeatable position.
Lazerevski chalked up the opening try of the second half before Gerringong finally scored through back-rower Adam Moore.
The Gorillas had the final say with winger Jarryd Pepper's try a minute before full-time.
Five-eighth Jesse Dee was arguably Warilla's standout.
"He's a dream to coach," Hooper said. "He's first to training and last to leave and anything you tell him he takes on board."
Lions coach Mick Cronin didn't mince words after the game. "We were disgraceful," he said.
"I don't know how many times we lost the ball, just knocking on cold, being pushed over the sideline. They were too good. But if we're going to be good enough, they've done us a favour today."
Nowra-Bomaderry beat Albion Park-Oak Flats 36-18 and Shellharbour beat Port Kembla 48-12.
Table: Warilla 16, Shellharbour 14, Kiama 12, Jamberoo 11, Nowra-Bomaderry 9, Gerringong 8, Milton-Ulladulla 6, Berry-Shoalhaven Heads, Port Kembla, Albion Park-Oak Flats 4