After a reverse against the lower-ranked Storm, the Vodafone Junior Warriors will be looking to rebound with their third home win in as many starts when they face Wests Tigers in tomorrow’s sixth-round NYC contest at Mount Smart Stadium (3.15pm kick-off).
The match launches another tripleheader programme followed by the New South Wales Cup clash between the two clubs at 5.15pm and the NRL encounter at 7.30pm.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors slipped from third to fifth with their 28-38 loss to Melbourne on Monday while the Tigers are third after two consecutive victories.
In their last two games at home the Vodafone Junior Warriors have beaten Parramatta 38-10 and Brisbane 40-14.
They go into tomorrow’s encounter at full strength, Marata Niukore returning in the centres after debuting for the club’s New South Wales Cup side last Sunday. It was a tough day out for the Vodafone Warriors as they lost 6-42 to Wyong but the 18-year-old Niukore distinguished himself making 24 tackles without a miss and making 77 metres from 10 runs.
With another double on Monday, second rower Matiu Love-Henry is the team’s leading try-scorer with six in five games while standoff Ata Hingano already has 58 points this season from three tries and 23 goals. He produced three try assists and three line break assists against the Storm.
Meanwhile, Vodafone Junior Warriors coach Kelvin Wright has today been named to coach the Junior Kiwis this year after being assistant to Brent Gemmell in last year’s win over the Junior Kangaroos. Wright was also Stacey Jones’ assistant for the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ grand final-winning NYC side last year as well as having an assistant coaching role with the champion Kiwi side in the Four Nations.
Three other members of the club’s football department have also been appointed to positions with the Junior Kiwis – Carmen Taplin as manager, Dayne Norton as one of the trainers (along with former Kiwi captain and Vodafone Warrior Quentin Pongia) and Simon Keepa as physio.
The Junior Kiwis meet the Junior Kangaroos in a one-off international at Cbus Stadium in Robina on May 2.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v WESTS TIGERS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
3.15pm, Saturday, April 11
Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 BRAD ABBEY
2 TOMAS AOAKE
3 SEMISI TYRELL
4 MARATA NIUKORE
5 PAUL ULBERG
6 ATA HINGANO
7 ERIN CLARK
8 BUNTY AFOA
9 NATHANIEL ROACHE
10 TOAFOFOA SIPLEY (c)
11 OFAHIKI OGDEN
12 MATIU LOVE-HENRY
13 JAZZ TEVAGA
14 SHELDON PITAMA
15 PAUL TULI
16 AMONI TUFUI
17 MATTAIS HEIMULI
20 TAMATI IOANE-NIKO
COACH: KELVIN WRIGHT