St George Illawarra turned on a hot second half display to beat the Vodafone Junior Warriors 40-16 in Saturday’s second-round NYC clash at Eden Park.
Only six points separated the sides at halftime and the home side was still in contact as the contest headed into the final quarter but a try in the 61st minute and two in the final nine minutes blew the margin out to 24 points.
Two tries in the space of two minutes right on halftime had given the Vodafone Junior Warriors every hope of making a big play for the two competition points.
They’d been down 0-18 with the break approaching when the two-try strike threatened to turn the course of the match.
The second of the back-to-back touchdowns was the ultimate example of what one of this year’s law changes was designed to achieve.
Captain Mason Lino ripped off a superb 40/20 – taking advantage of the Cyclone Lusi-powered breeze behind him – and sprinted downfield to where the ball went into touch. The ball was swiftly relayed infield and from a quick tap Lino was across for a spectacular try before the Dragons realised what had happened.
Lino converted both tries – the first conversion taking him past 300 NYC points – and it was suddenly 12-18.
A try to St George Illawarra soon after halftime opened the gap again to 24-12 but the Vodafone Junior Warriors were back in contact at 16-24 when centre Lafu Feagaiga wriggled over in the 52nd minute.
They needed to be the next score; instead Addin Fonua-Blake’s converted try in the 61st minute extended the margin to 14 points. While the Vodafone Junior Warriors kept pressing but were hampered by errors contributing to a poor completion rate; they had 32 shots with the ball but managed to complete just 19 sets.
After playing in the club’s New South Wales Cup side last week, Sam Lisone made his mark on the game. He was the busiest player on the field in terms of runs, carrying the ball 17 times in all, gaining 159 metres, making seven tackle breaks and also adding 21 tackles.
Next up for the Vodafone Junior Warriors is the most challenging away trip to take on the Cowboys in Townsville next Saturday night.
At Eden Park, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 16 (Ken Maumalo, Mason Lino, Lafu Feagaiga tries; Mason Lino 2 conversions).
St George Illawarra 40 (Drew Hutchison, Dee-Jay Harris, Adam Clune, Brody Rigg, Addin Fonua-Blake, Euan Aitken, Matthew Dufty tries; Hayden McRae 4 conversions; Sitiveni Moceidreke 2 conversions).
Halftime: 18-12 Dragons.
Referees: Chris Butler and Shane Rehm.
Vodafone Junior Warriors: Brad Abbey; Metia Lisati, Lafu Feagaiga, Ken Maumalo, Braxton Stanley; Nathaniel Roache, Mason Lino (c); Sam Lisone, Kurt Robinson, James Taylor; Michael Ki, Matiu Love-Henry; Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard. Interchange: Bunty Afoa, Toafofoa Sipley, James Bell, Tazz Tevaga.