Newcastle handed the Vodafone Junior Warriors their first home defeat of the season with a convincing 36-16 victory in Saturday’s 12th-round NYC match at Mount Smart Stadium.
Looking to avenge a 16-41 loss to the Knights in the opening round of the season, the home side conceded a 0-12 lead inside the opening 20 minutes.
The effects of a week off for the Vodafone Junior Warriors for their first bye were evident and the mission became testing in the extreme after losing frontline players Marata Niukore and Bunty Afoa.
Despite the twin setbacks the Vodafone Junior Warriors fought their way back into the match with a 33rd-minute try to back rower Ofahiki Ogden, Ata Hingano converting to cut the margin to 6-12 at the halftime break.
Any hope of sustaining the effort in the second half soon came unstuck, though, as Newcastle scored in the opening minutes of the second 40 and soon added another two tries to surge to a 30-6 lead.
There was some respite if not a glimmer of hope when wings Koli Oneone and Tomas Aoake scored in the space of three minutes, Oneone with his third try in his first four NYC games and Aoake with his 11th in 11 games this season.
That had the score-line back to 16-30 but there it ended with the Knights finishing with a sixth try to hand the defending premiers a rare loss at Mount Smart Stadium.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 16 (Ofahiki Ogden, Koli Oneone, Tomas Aoake tries; Ata Hingano 2 conversions).
Newcastle Knights 36 (Brock Lamb 2, Joshua Birch, Braden Robson, Jake McNamara, Jack Mackin tries; Brock Lamb 6 conversions).
Halftime: 12-6 Knights.
Referees: Peter Gough and Matt Noyen.
Vodafone Junior Warriors: Brad Abbey; Tomas Aoake, Junior Pauga, Semisi Tyrell, Koli Oneone; Ata Hingano, Erin Clark; Bunty Afoa, Nathaniel Roache, Amoni Tufui; Ofahiki Ogden, Marata Niukore; Matiu Love-Henry. Interchange: Chris Sio, Tualima Tualima, Lewis Soosemea, Nick Lui-Toso.