NYC PREVIEW: Vodafone Junior Warriors v Storm

Vodafone Junior Warriors fullback Ngataua Hukatai was outstanding against South Sydney earlier this month, earning the players' player of the day award. Photo: Photosport.


Both Vodafone Warriors teams face demanding assignments against their Storm opponents in todays Anzac Day matches at AAMI Park in Melbourne.


While Melbournes NRL side is in peerless form on a run of 14 straight wins stretching back to August 4 last year, the clubs NYC team is also in strong shape with just one loss on six starts this year.


The young Storm side is running second in the competition behind the unbeaten Penrith Panthers heading into todays match (4.45pm kick-off; 6.45pm NZT).


Guided by former Kiwi captain Hugh McGahans son Matt at halfback and also featuring ex-All Black captain Tana Umagas son Cade in the back row, the Storm have won their last four games on end, albeit by close margins recently.


The Vodafone Junior Warriors are also unbeaten in their last four outings, following three consecutive wins over Cronulla, North Queensland and South Sydney with a 22-22 draw against Canberra 12 days ago. The last result ended a run of three defeats in the Vodafone Junior Warriors previous visits to Australia's capital city.


Theyll go into todays contest with a new pairing on the wings with Viliami Lolohea who played in the New South Wales Cup on April 13 unavailable through injury and Viliami Kaveinga suspended.


Their absences see Ken Maumalo, used in the centres in two earlier eppearances this season, selected on one wing while Dilworth School old boy Alamoti Finau will make his debut on the other wing. Finau is yet another Marist Saints junior to come through the Vodafone Warriors development system, joining club-mates Tuimoala Lolohea, Mason Lino, David Fusitua, Michael Sio and Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard in todays line-up.


Also making his debut off the bench today will be Wellingtons 18-year-old hooker Kurt Robinson, a Petone Panthers junior and a product of Hutt Valley High School.


The rest of the side is settled with captain David Bhana, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Tuimavave-Gerrard in the back row again while the starting props named were Albert Vete and James Taylor with Sio at hooker.


Bhana produced yet another whole-hearted effort in the last-out draw with the Raiders, complementing his game-high 45 tackles with a try, 90 metres gained from 11 runs, five tackle breaks and a line break. It earned him the players player of the day vote.


Lino, with 45 points so far this season, needs just 11 more to bring up 200 points in the NYC.


VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v MELBOURNE STORM


AAMI Park, Melbourne

4.45pm, Thursday, April 25

Referee: Tim Rutherford


VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS


1NGATAUA HUKATAI

2KEN MAUMALO

3SOLOMONE KATA

4DAVID FUSITUA

5ALAMOTI FINAU

6TUIMOALA LOLOHEA

7MASON LINO (c)

8ALBERT VETE

9MICHAEL SIO

10JAMES TAYLOR

11RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER

12ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD

13DAVID BHANA (c)

Interchange:

14KURT ROBINSON

15SAM LISONE

16STEDMAN LEFAU

17 KATAMIRO ATERA

18ERIC NEWBIGGING


HEAD COACH: JOHN ACKLAND