NYC PREVIEW: Vodafone Junior Warriors v Knights

Fullback Ngataua Hukatai (pictured) is missing for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in today's NYC clash against Newcastle. Photo: Photosport.


A spot inside the top four beckons for the Vodafone Junior Warriors when they face Newcastle in todays 11th-round NYC encounter at Mount Smart Stadium (1.45pm kick-off; 7.15pm NZT).


They go into the match sitting in fifth spot on 13 points from six wins and a draw in their first 10 outings with fourth-placed Brisbane just a point ahead in fourth.


They take on a Newcastle side running 10th in the competition with a four win-six loss record.


Vodafone Junior Warriors coach John Ackland has been forced to shuffle his side again. Having lost key playmaker Mason Lino and frontline prop James Taylor recently, hes also without first-choice fullback Ngataua Hukatai. In his absence the talented David Fusitua switches to fullback with Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard coming out of the second row to start in the centres. His place in the back row is taken by Eric Newbigging.


Ackland named an eight-man bench initially. The players dropping off are Viliami Lolohea, Matiu Love-Henry, Tama Koopu and Toafofoa Sipley.

The Vodafone Junior Warriors come into the contest buoyed by back-to-back wins over top eight side Canterbury-Bankstown and then-competition leader Penrith last Saturday night.


Among the outstanding performers in the 38-32 win was prop Albert Vete who carried the ball a game-high 21 times for 176 metres. Second rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner again underlined his quality with his third try in as many games, 130 metres from 16 carries, six tackle breaks and 28 tackles.


VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS


Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

1.45pm, Sunday, May 26

Referee: Chris Butler and Shane Rehm


VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS


1DAVID FUSITUA

2METIA LISATI

3SOLOMONE KATA

4ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD

5ALAMOTI FINAU

6TUIMOALA LOLOHEA

7EKO MALU

8VINCE AFOA

9MICHAEL SIO

10ALBERT VETE

11RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER

12ERIC NEWBIGGING

13DAVID BHANA (c)

Interchange:

14KURT ROBINSON

15SAM LISONE

16STEDMAN LEFAU

17KOUMA SAMSON


HEAD COACH: JOHN ACKLAND