Eight tries propelled the Vodafone Junior Warriors to an impressive 44-30 victory over the Sydney Roosters in today’s NYC elimination final at Allianz Stadium.
The eighth-placed Vodafone Junior Warriors built on a 28-14 halftime lead to stretch out to a 44-18 advantage midway through the second spell before the Roosters finished with two late tries.
The result hands the Stacey Jones-coached side a week two finals date with the minor premiers the Newcastle Knights, who were upset 30-22 by St George-Illawarra in today’s first final at Allianz Stadium.
The quality and significance of the Vodafone Junior Warriors' victory was clouded by some potential injury issues but they couldn’t detract from a quality effort.
When the two sides met the only time in the regular season, the Roosters stole a 20-18 win late in the contest.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors essentially shut them out of this battle inside the opening 25 minutes.
Co-captain Sam Lisone powered over off a Kurt Robinson pass to open the scoring before centre Solomone Kata was too strong after Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard held his pass up nicely on the right edge.
From the restart the Vodafone Junior Warriors went long-range to strike again through centre Nathaniel Roache on the other edge, a Robinson grubber ricocheted off the upright for Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard to score and then Tuimoala Lolohea took on the line, beating three defenders for one of his specials.
A couple of lapses enabled the Roosters to stay in some sort of contact when they trailed 14-28 at halftime before they then drew within 10 points after crossing again in the opening minutes of the second half.
If there was a glimmer of hope for the home side it effectively vanished in a nine-minute period from the 46th minute to the 55th minute when the Vodafone Junior Warriors showed a ruthless streak to surge to a 44-18 advantage.
The first of three tries went to winger Metia Lisati. On a day when he provided a series of outstanding defensive plays, Lisati produced one of the season’s most exceptional finishes to somehow get ball down in the field of play in the right-hand corner.
It was then all power as Roache jumped out of dummy half, dropping off to an unstoppable Toafofoa Sipley for his seventh try of the season, and minutes later Lisone was all bristling strength again for his second try of the match and his eighth this year.
The score might have been anything after that but injuries and stoppages slowed the flow. The Roosters claimed a big share of possession for a period and ended up with two late tries.
At various stages any number of Vodafone Junior Warriors needed treatment yet through it all their big-hearted defensive efforts stood out late in the game to give them a richly-deserved win.
Lino was among the battered troops on a day when he kicked six of eight attempts to lift his points total for the year to 184 and his career tally to 475.
Match details | Allianz Stadium, Sydney
(5) Sydney Roosters 30 (Jack Goodsell 2, Jake Lewis, Jakiel Mariner, Brendan Elliot, Taane Milne tries; Paul Momirovski 3 conversions).
(8) Vodafone Warriors 44 (Sam Lisone 2, Solomone Kata, Nathaniel Roache, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Tuimoala Lolohea, Metia Lisati, Toafofoa Sipley tries; Mason Lino 6 conversions).
Halftime: 28-14 Vodafone Junior Warriors.
Referees: Jon Stone and Lawrence McDonnell.
Vodafone Warriors: Brad Abbey; Ngataua Hukatai, Nathaniel Roache, Solomone Kata, Metia Lisati; Tuimoala Lolohea, Mason Lino (c); Sam Lisone (c), Kurt Robinson, Kouma Samson; Marata Niukore, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard; Jazz Tevaga. Interchange: Ken Maumalo, Toafofoa Sipley, Iulio Afoa, James Bell.