The Vodafone Junior Warriors fell to a second consecutive home defeat as the Sydney Roosters scored 32 second half points to surge to a 38-22 win in today’s 14th-round NYC clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
After conceding an early second half try to trail 4-10, the Vodafone Junior Warriors replied immediately with a superb long-range try, fullback Brad Abbey backing up to score between the posts.
With Ata Hingano’s conversion it was all locked up at 10-10 but all too quickly the Roosters powered away, snaring three tries in a matter of six minutes to leap to an ominous 28-10 lead after 56 minutes.
The momentum was was checked momentarily as the Vodafone Junior Warriors fought to contain the visitors but in the 64th minute they were in again to stretch to 32-10.
With plenty of time left, the home side regrouped and responded.
Indeed two tries in rapid succession put life back into the contest as first right wing Lewis Soosemea and then Abbey crossed. With Hingano converting there was just 10 points in it – 22-32 – with eight minutes still to go.
But, as the Vodafone Junior Warriors pressed again, a freak moment hurt their chances.
A pass to the right cannoned off Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck’s head, he re-gathered and ran the better part of 60 metres to score. It had looked like Tuivasa-Sheck may have knocked on in the process but replays revealed the ball had contacted only his head.
It was a killer blow enabling the Roosters to extend to 36-22 before they added a late penalty to finish the scoring.
That the Vodafone Junior Warriors were able to stay in the mix was a big positive considering they had such little possession, completing just 17 of 30 sets. The Roosters had 38 sets and completed 26 of them, the imbalance in possession resulting in the home side making a huge 316 tackles to the Roosters’ total of just 205.
They competed exceptionally well in the first half, holding out a threatening Roosters side and then recovering to go to halftime on close to even terms.
It was a demanding day defensively with loose forward Jazz Tevaga topping the tackle count with 41 while Marata Niukore (36), Bunty Afoa (33), Nathaniel Roache (33) and Erin Clark (30) all carried a big workload, too.
With the ball centre Semisi Tyrell amassed 213 metres including six tackle breaks.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 22 (Brad Abbey 2, Matiu Love-Henry, Lewis Soosemea tries; Ata Hingano 3 conversions).
Sydney Roosters 38 (Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck 2, Jack Hetherington, Latrell Mitchell, Misieli Vaikeli, Paul Momirovski, Joseph Manu tries; Taane Milne 4 conversions, penalty).
Halftime: 6-4 Roosters.
Referee: Alan Shortall and Chris Butler.
Vodafone Junior Warriors: Brad Abbey; Tomas Aoake, Semisi Tyrell, Junior Pauga, Lewis Soosemea; Ata Hingano, Erin Clark; Bunty Afoa, Nathaniel Roache, Amoni Tufui; Marata Niukore, Matiu Love-Henry; Jazz Tevaga. Interchange: Chris Sio, Tualima Tualima, Roman Tuhimata, Mattais Heimuli.