For the second year running the Vodafone Junior Warriors have come away from Redfern Oval with a two-point NYC loss to South Sydney.
Hunting for a third straight win they’d been in great shape early in the contest to lead 16-0 only to yield 14 points each side halftime to trail 16-28 with 10 minutes to go.
Finally after conceding 28 unanswered points the Vodafone Junior Warriors were able to stem the flow, cutting the margin to 22-28 with a converted Kouma Samson try.
Into the final moments the Rabbitohs still had a six-point advantage but on cue the Vodafone Junior Warriors earned a possible escape when winger Metia Lisati scored his second try of the match wide out.
It was down to Mason Lino to salvage a draw with the testing conversion attempt but he couldn’t quite nail it allowing the Rabbitohs to take a 28-26 victory.
The result immediately ended the club's hopes of sweeping all three grades for the third week running.
They did the NRL-NYC double against Gold Coast two weeks ago while the club’s New South Wales Cup side had a win over North Sydney and last weekend the club produced a treble with 34-12 (NSW Cup), 34-22 (NYC) and 38-18 (NRL) triumphs against Newcastle.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors’ two-point loss today mirrored the corresponding result at Redfern Oval last year. On that occasion the Vodafone Junior Warriors recovered from a 22-40 deficit after 60 minutes only to lose 38-40 with Tuimolala Lolohea missing a conversion attempt from wide out which might have earned a draw.
The initial signs today suggested the Vodafone Junior Warriors were in their best groove as they created tries for Lisati, Nathaniel Roache – who started at hooker for the injured Kurt Robinson – and centre Ken Maumalo to race to a 16-0 lead.
Rather than maintaining the pressure, though, the Vodafone Junior Warriors found momentum turning on them so acutely that the Rabbitohs had the run of the contest until the final stages.
They scored three tries before halftime to trail just 14-16, took the lead 18-16 straight after the break and then went 12 points clear with two more tries in quick order to suggest they might go on with it.
Instead the Vodafone Junior Warriors choked the Rabbitohs’ scoring rhythm and set about giving themselves a chance of coming out of the match with something positive.
Ultimately they were left with an empty feeling knowing their lapses in the middle stages of the encounter had come back to bite them. Despite the defeat they’ll remain in seventh spot at the end of the round.
With his second goal of the match Lino had the distinction of reaching the 100-point mark for the third successive season in the NYC; he now has a career total of 393 points.
Match details | Redfern Oval, Sydney
South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 (Cheyne Whitelaw, Wallace Tangiiti, Elliot Gorman, PJ Los’e, Clayton Williams, Irae Simone tries; Wallace Tangiiti conversion; Irae Simone conversion).
Vodafone Junior Warriors 26 (Metia Lisati 2, Nathaniel Roache, Ken Maumalo, Kouma Samson tries; Mason Lino 3 conversions).
Halftime: 16-14 Vodafone Junior Warriors.
Referee: Lawrence McDonnell.
Vodafone Junior Warriors: Brad Abbey; Paul Ulberg, Ngataua Hukatai, Ken Maumalo, Metia Lisati; Mikaere Beattie, Mason Lino (c); Bunty Afoa, Nathaniel Roache, Kouma Samson; Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Matiu Love-Henry; Ofahiki Ogden. Interchange: Toafofoa Sipley, James Bell, Jazz Tevaga, Paul Tuli.