The Anzac spirit will be a powerful component when the Vodafone Junior Warriors take on the Melbourne Storm in today’s eighth-round NYC clash at AAMI Park (3.05pm kick-off local time; 5.05pm NZT).
This is the sixth year the two clubs have played each other since establishing an Anzac Day tradition in 2009.
The major pre-game Anzac Day ceremonies will take place ahead of the NRL match kicking off at 6.00pm local time (8.00pm NZT) but there’ll be a strong flavour of the two countries’ special day of remembrance throughout.
In football terms only, it’s an important day for the Stacey Jones-coached Vodafone Junior Warriors as they seek to maintain the momentum they’ve created in recent weeks.
After starting their campaign with two losses they’ve won four of their last five games including an impressive 36-12 victory over St George Illawarra last weekend (the Dragons were running second in the competition and had trounced the Vodafone Junior Warriors 40-16 in the second round).
The run of form has the Vodafone Junior Warriors sitting sixth on the table while the Storm lie 12th two points back on six points with three wins and four losses so far; they’ve had two wins and three losses in their last five games.
After being forced to chop and change his line-up for various reasons earlier on in the season, Jones has been able to work with a more settled group of players in recent weeks.
MELBOURNE STORM v VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
AAMI Park, Melbourne
3.05pm (5.05pm NZT), Friday, April 25
Referee: Peter Gough
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 ANZAC DAY | The Anzac Day atmosphere will have a significant effect. A sell-out crowd is expected (more than 28,000 tickets had been sold yesterday) which will ensure big numbers of fans will be watching this early game.
#2 MASON LINO | Much depends on Lino’s involvement in his 49th appearance. He had a major input into last week’s success against the Dragons bagging 16 points. He already has 80 for the season and close to 400 career points.
#3 SAM LISONE | Think Lino and in the same breath you think Lisone. The co-captains carry added responsibility and continue to deliver. Lisone has been in exceptional form all season, making 175 metres against the Dragons.
#4 SOLOMONE KATA | The blockbusting centre was used in a dummy half role from the bench last week and made a huge impact. Broke tackles, bent the line and gained 130 metres from 11 quality runs before tweaking his ankle.
#5 JAMES BELL | Another first-year NYC player, Bell is revelling in his return to the side after being used at the start of the campaign. In 57 minutes off the bench last week he made 150 metres from 13 runs plus 23 tackles.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 BRAD ABBEY
2 LAFU FEA'AIGA
3 ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD
4 KEN MAUMALO
5 TOMAS AOAKE
6 MAFOA’AEATA HINGANO
7 MASON LINO (c)
8 SAM LISONE (c)
9 KURT ROBINSON
10 TOAFOFOA SIPLEY
11 MICHAEL KI
12 OFAHIKI OGDEN
13 KOUMA SAMSON
14 IULIO AFOA
15 JAMES BELL
16 JAMES TAYLOR
17 SOLOMONE KATA
COACH: STACEY JONES