Fullback David Fusitua's late try wasn't enough to spark a comeback win for the Vodafone Junior Warriors against Newcastle in Sunday's NYC clash. Photo: Photosport.


Despite an unexpected 10-24 loss to Newcastle on Sunday, the Vodafone Junior Warriors remain fifth and just a point outside the top four after 11 rounds of the NYC season.


Indeed next Monday nights clash against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium will be a straight shootout for fourth spot.


Win the 12th-round encounter and the Vodafone Junior Warriors will surge to 15 points, one above the current fourth-placed Broncos.


Theyll need to match their form the last time they were on the road, though. On that occasion they accounted for previous pacesetter Penrith 38-32 a week after beating Canterbury-Bankstown in their home game away from home at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on May 11.


On either side of those two wins the Vodafone Warriors first suffered a shock 30-32 loss to then last-placed Gold Coast at Mount Smart Stadium and again faltered at home against a Knights side which had started the round in 10th place.


The first half hadnt played out as hoped for, Newcastle scoring three tries to a lone strike by new winger Metia Lisati to leave the Vodafone Junior Warriors 4-14 adrift.


They fell further behind early in the second half before David Fusitua, playing at fullback for the injured Ngataua Hukatai, provided hope of a late comeback with a 67th-minute try.


There would be no more joy. Instead the Knights scored a late try to finish 14 points clear on a day when the Vodafone Junior Warriors werent quite on song.


Fusitua was an exception making huge ground 187 metres from 18 runs - while captain David Bhana produced another defensive master-class with 61 tackles.


Match details:


At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

Vodafone Junior Warriors 10 (Metia Lisati, David Fusitua tries; Solomone Kata conversion).

Newcastle Knights 24 (Lachlan Shipard 2, Jake Mamo, Adam Clydesdale, Pat Matautia tries; David Oakes 2 conversions).

Halftime: 14-4 Knights.

Referees: Chris Butler and Shane Rehm.


Vodafone Junior Warriors: David Fusitua; Metia Lisati, Solomone Kata, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Alamoti Finau; Tuimoala Lolohea, Eko Malu; Vince Afoa, Michael Sio, Albert Vete; Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Eric Newbigging; David Bhana (c). Interchange: Kurt Robinson, Sam Lisone, Stedman Lefau, Kouma Samson.