Abraham Papaliis barnstorming try at the death carried the Vodafone Junior Warriors to a come-from-behind 34-28 win over Brisbane in todays 16th-round NYC match at Mount Smart Stadium.
The late victory the Vodafone Junior Warriors ninth win so far lifted them to 21 points and spot inside the top four for the first time this season.
They used a vastly different line-up with four of their most experienced performers (David Fusitua, David Bhana, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Albert Vete) all playing for the Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup today.
They were also without injured centre Solomone Kata, who has scored 88 points in 10 games so far.
The Broncos, beaten 46-20 when the sides met in Brisbane four weeks ago, were a much-changed proposition, too.
Playing at high tempo they threw plenty of threats at the home side, coming back from a 12-16 halftime deficit to lead 28-22 with 24 minutes to play.
But first fullback Tuimoala Lolohea exploded from 40 metres out to score his second try, also converting it to make it 28-28 with 12 minutes still to play.
There was a sense the Vodafone Junior Warriors were coming home with a wet sail.
While they left it a little late the winner was almost inevitable, coming as schoolboy rugby union star Papalii powered through defenders to score between the posts, Loloheas conversion giving the Vodafone Junior Warriors a six-point victory.
Earlier fill-in centre Eric Newbigging and hooker Kurt Robinson all scored their first tries in NYC football while prop James Taylor showed immense strength to snare his first try of the year.
Lolohea, moved from standoff to fullback, finished with 18 points from his two tries and five conversions from six attempts. He has overtaken Kata as the teams leading try scorer with 12 tries in 15 games this season.
At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 34 (Tuimoala Lolohea 2, Eric Newbigging, James Taylor, Kurt Robinson, Abraham Papalii tries; Tuimoala Lolohea 5 conversions).
Brisbane Broncos 28 (Corey Oates 3, Paul Byrnes, Duncan Paiaaua tries; Duncan Paiaaua 4 conversions).
Halftime: 16-12 Vodafone Junior Warriors.
Referee: Chris Buller.
Vodafone Junior Warriors: Tuimoala Lolohea; Metia Lisati, Eric Newbigging, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Viliami Lolohea; Sam Cook, Eko Malu; Abraham Papalii, Michael Sio (c), James Taylor; Sione Feao, Toafofoa Sipley; Stedman Lefau. Interchange: Ken Maumalo, Kurt Robinson, Sam Lisone, Katamiro Atera.