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Vodafone Warriors centre Jerome Ropati (pictured) was encouraged to come through his first thorough examination unscathed when he made his comeback for the Auckland Vulcans in their fourth-round New South Wales Cup match against Windsor at Mount Smart Stadium today. Photo: Photosport.

The 28-year-old former Kiwi played all but the last few minutes of the clash, a contest drawn 24-24 after the Vulcans had led 24-18 heading into the home stretch.

Out for most of last season after knee surgery, Ropati had some time on the field in the Vodafone Warriors trial against Brisbane in Dunedin on February 23.

He said making his full return today via the New South Wales Cup had been ideal.

It was great training with these guys and playing out there with them today, he said.

I think its a much better way to come back when youve been out for a long time like I have. I just wanted to get through the match, get involved and try to help as much as I could.

The knee felt a lot better than it did when I played against the Broncos a few weeks ago.

The Vulcans started the match impressively, leaping to a 12-0 lead through tries Vodafone Warriors to prop Suaia Matagi and ex-Vodafone Junior Warrior and second rower Agnatius Paasi, both converted by Harry Siejka.

By halftime there was only six points in it after former Vodafone Junior Warrior Neccrom Areaiiti scored and Blake Austin converted.

From holding a six-point lead the Vulcans quickly fell six points behind early in the second half as they yielded tries to Austin and fullback Matt Moylan, Austin adding the extras each time for an 18-12 advantage.

A smart try down the left to winger Atelea Nafetalai and a splendid sideline conversion from Siejka had the teams all level before Siejka stepped through and past several defenders to score from close range. With his conversion the Vulcans were back in front 24-18 only to be breached when prop Sam Anderson scored and Austin converted again on a day when the goal kickers knocked over all eight attempts.

There was time for the Vulcans to steal it but from 20 metres out Siejkas late field goal attempt curled away to the left.

With the point from the draw, the Vulcans moved to eighth spot on the ladder with three points.

The Vulcans are part of another tripleheader at Mount Smart Stadium next Sunday, kicking off at 12.00 noon against North Sydney while the Vodafone Warriors host South Sydneys NRL and NYC sides.

Match details:

At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

Auckland Vulcans 24 (Suaia Matagi, Agnatius Paasi, Atelea Nafetalai, Harry Siejka tries; Harry Siejka 4 conversions).

Windsor Wolves 24 (Neccrom Areaiiti, Blake Austin, Matt Moylan, Sam Anderson tries; Blake Austin 4 conversions).

Halftime: 12-6 Vulcans.

Referee: Jamal Thompson.

Vulcans: Zoram Watene; Tangi Ropati, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Jerome Ropati, Atelea Nafetalai; Steve Waetford, Harry Siejka; Suaia Matagi, Siliva Havili; John Palavi, Agnatius Paasi; Murray Iti. Interchange: Aaron Nootai, Nathaniel Peteru, Herman Retzlaff, Patrick Sipley.
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