First-year coach Kelvin Wright and many of his charges savoured a breakthrough win when the Vodafone Junior Warriors surged to a 44-24 win over the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium today.
After conceding a 16-41 loss first up to Newcastle, the defending NYC premiers rebounded with an eight-try spree against a Raiders side they put 54 points on in both encounters between the two sides last year.
They were on song from the outset scoring early through second rower Matiu Love-Henry and going on with it.
While Canberra came back with a reply to be 4-6 down, it was all Vodafone Junior Warriors for the rest of the first half.
Hooker Sheldon Pitama celebrated his first outing for the club after playing for the Storm last year by sneaking over from dummy half and rookie halfback Erin Clark dummied his way across for his first NYC try.
Immediately the Vodafone Junior Warriors were in again with Pitama creating the opportunity with a superb break, putting standoff Ata Hingano in for his second try of the season. Before the half was out they had a fifth try from captain Nathaniel Roache, switched to the centres for this game. With Hingano converting four of the tries, the Vodafone Junior Warriors were in charge 28-4 at the break.
While they conceded an early second half try to have the margin cut to 18 points they were out to a 34-10 lead soon after when prop Bunty Afoa scored the first of his two second half tries.
The Raiders came up with a two-try strike to pull the score-line back to 20-34 before Afoa’s second try made the result safe.
There was time for another Canberra four-pointer and also for the Vodafone Junior Warriors to put an exclamation mark on the outcome with Love-Henry’s second try right on full-time.
With his try and six conversions, Hingano accounted for 16 points.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors are at home for the first time this season next Saturday when they take on the Eels at Mount Smart Stadium.
Match details | GIO Stadium, Canberra
Canberra Raiders 24 (Brenko Lee 2, Chevi Ellis, Lachlan Croker, Jack Hickson tries; Lachlan Croker 2 conversions).
Vodafone Junior Warriors 44 (Bunty Afoa 2, Matiu Love-Henry 2, Sheldon Pitama, Erin Clark, Ata Hingano, Nathaniel Roache, tries; Ata Hingano 6 conversions).
Referee: Liam Kennedy.
Vodafone Junior Warriors: Brad Abbey; Paul Ulberg, Nathaniel Roache (c), Semisi Tyrell, Tomas Aoake; Ata Hingano, Erin Clark; Bunty Afoa, Sheldon Pitama, Amoni Tufui; Marata Niukore, Matiu Love-Henry; Jazz Tevaga. Interchange: Ofahiki Ogden, Wesley Tauti, Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano, Roman Tuhimata.