Four weeks after being outgunned by Brisbane in Auckland, the Vodafone Junior Warriors returned serve with a convincing 40-18 victory over the Broncos in Saturday night’s 19th-round NYC match at Suncorp Stadium.
The third-placed Broncos had hit the Vodafone Junior Warriors with a 36-0 first half assault at Mount Smart Stadium before being held scoreless in the second spell before winning 36-18.
The form line indicated this would be a severe test for the Stacey Jones-coached side. Sitting eighth they had lost three of their previous four matches while the Broncos had won four of their last five.
From the outset, though, the Vodafone Junior Warriors looked the form side.
They fielded a line-up much-changed from the originally named one losing key playmaker Mason Lino. The onus was on 17-year-old Ata Hingano to lead the side around with centre Semisi Tyrell coming into the halves.
The new centres combination featured Solomone Kata, originally slated to play for the club’s New South Wales Cup side against Wyong but had been taken to Brisbane as cover for the NRL squad. When it was clear he wouldn’t be needed for the NRL team he was freed up to turn out for the Vodafone Junior Warriors.
His presence was huge boon for the side as he went on to convert six of the side’s seven tries, ran 176 metres from 18 carries, made six tackle breaks, a line break and produced a try assist.
The Vodafone Warriors conceded the first try but exploded with three within 10 minutes before halftime to lead 16-6, the first to Toafofoa Sipley before back rowers Michael Ki and Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard crossed as well.
A converted Hingano try had the lead out to 22-6 seven minutes into the second half before Nathaniel Roache, Ki with his second and Brad Abbey added three tries between the 63rd and 76th minutes to complete an impressive victory.
Despite the win, the Vodafone Junior Warriors remain eighth on the ladder ahead of their 20th-round clash against Manly at Mount Smart Stadium next Sunday.
Match details | Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Brisbane Broncos 18 (Jordan Drew 2, Francis Molo tries; Jayden Nikorima 3 conversions).
Vodafone Junior Warriors 40 (Michael Ki 2, Toafofoa Sipley, Adam Tuimvave-Gerrard, Ata Hingano, Nathaniel Roache, Brad Abbey tries; Solomone Kata 6 conversions).
Halftime: 16-6 Vodafone Junior Warriors.
Referee: Michael Gordon.
Vodafone Junior Warriors: Brad Abbey; Viliami Kaveinga, Marata Niukore, Solomone Kata, Metia Lasati; Semisi Tyrell, Mafoa'aeata Hingano; Paul Tuli, Kurt Robinson, Sam Lisone (c); Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Michael Ki; Jazz Tevaga. Interchange: Bunty Afoa, Nathaniel Roache, Toafofoa Sipley, Kouma Samson.