Atelea Nafetalais try after the fulltime siren propelled the Auckland Vulcans to a stunning 28-24 win over third-placed Newcastle in todays New South Wales encounter at Mount Smart Stadium. Photo: Photosport.


With Newcastle in possession and leading 24-22 and with only 20 seconds left, defeat seemed the only outcome for the Vulcans.


Out of nowhere, though, the Vulcans turned a grim predicament into a dazzling finish.


The Vulcans had been chasing a late winner a minute earlier only for standoff Steve Waetford to lose possession in a one-on-one strip. The chastened Waetford then sought and found redemption by executing a legitimate strip of his own, dislodging the ball to give the Vulcans one last shot at glory from inside their own half.


First they probed down the right edge and then flung it all the way back across to the extreme left where Agnatius Paasi was put into space. Sizing the situation up he timed his pass perfectly to winger Afetalai Nafetalai to run away for the match winner after the siren had gone.


Vodafone Warriors halfback Harry Siejka added the conversion to give the Vulcans a four-point win which had looked out of reach, the result snapping a run of three losses to Cronulla, Wyong and Canterbury-Bankstown.


Earlier the Vulcans had recovered from 10-12 to lead 16-12 at halftime, Vodafone Warriors Alehana Mara, Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape and Siejka scoring all their points.


It was an advantage they held for a long period in the second half as the contest settled into an arm wrestle.


Eventually the Knights broke the deadlock with a converted try to go ahead 18-16 and then stretched out to 24-16 with eight minutes to go.


The Vulcans were anything but resigned about the outcome.


They had the faintest glimmer of hope when big Vodafone Warriors prop Charlie Gubb drove over between the posts, Siejka converting to leave his side just two points adrift at 22-24.


Cue the dramatics in the final stages and a result which revived the Vulcans campaign, one which has edged them back into the competitions top eight.


Next Saturday the Vulcans are at home again when they take on Illawarra at Mount Stadium.


Match details:


At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

Auckland Vulcans 28 (Alehana Mara, Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape, Charlie Gubb, Atelea Nafetalai tries; Harry Siejka 4 conversions).

Newcastle Knights 24 (Mitchell Frei, Chad Redman, Chanel Matautia, Siuatonga Likiliki tries; Joe Mantellato 4 conversions).

Halftime: 16-12 Vulcans.

Referee: Daniel Caddy.


Vulcans: Tangi Ropati; Ngani Laumape, Konrad Hurrell, Dominique Peyroux, Atelea Nafetalai; Steve Waetford, Harry Siejka; Charlie Gubb, Alehana Mara, Daniel Palavi; John Palavi, Patrick Sipley; Suaia Matagi. Interchange: Siliva Havili, Alehana Mara, Nathaniel Peteru, Agnatius Paasi, Herman Retzlaff.