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NZ Warriors player David Bhana scores a try  in the NSW Cup Rugby League, NZ Warriors v Sea Eagles at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. 25 July 2015. Copyright Photo: Fiona Goodall /

A disallowed try in the final few minutes denied the Vodafone Warriors an outstanding comeback win over Manly in Saturday’s 20th-round New South Wales Cup clash at Mount Smart Stadium.

When interchange forward Paki Afu bludgeoned his way over the line he and his team-mates were adamant he’d scored what would have been the match-winner but referee Aaron Donald ruled no try.

Cruelly television replays then showed Afu had certainly scored; it was no comfort at all to the home side as the Sea Eagles then held on for an 18-16 win.

The net effect of the no-try decision and the loss could see the Vodafone Warriors falling as low as fourth after starting the weekend as the outright leaders.

Penrith won on Saturday to move to 28 points and reclaim first spot on points for and against. The Mounties and Wyong will also overtake the Vodafone Warriors on points for and against if they win on Sunday.

Going into the match the Vodafone Warriors had lost only once at home this season and they began this contest strongly with wing Ken Maumalo scoring his fifth try in two weeks, again doing really well to squeeze in at the corner with an airborne effort.

The rest of the half didn’t run so well, though, as the Sea Eagles put together three tries, the last of them right on halftime for an 18-4 lead.

The second half immediately took on a different complexion as the Vodafone Warriors quickly went about setting the agenda. They settled into the grind and soon enough the pressure told with interchange prop Kouma Samson driving across and Mason Lino converting from close to the posts; it was 10-18. Game on again well and truly.

The Vodafone Warriors maintained the intensity, Manly sticking with them in classic cut and thrust football.

Then with 11 minutes to go, the Vodafone Warriors made another move with loose forward David Bhana surging over for Lino to convert again. Now it was 16-18 with plenty of time to clinch it, which is what the Vodafone Warriors thought they’d done when Afu went over.

Not to be and the Vodafone Warriors had to settle for just their second home defeat of the season.

Next week they’re on the road against Newtown.

Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

Vodafone Warriors 16 (Ken Maumalo, Kouma Samson, David Bhana tries; Mason Lino 2 conversions).

Manly Sea Eagles 18 (Justin Horo, David Williams, Dom Reardon tries; Manaia Rudolph 3 conversions).

Halftime: 18-4 Sea Eagles.

Referee: Aaron Donald.

Vodafone Warriors: Viliami Kaveinga; Ken Maumalo, Matthew Allwood, Dominique Peyroux, Tomas Aoake; Ata Hingano, Mason Lino; Upu Poching, Nathaniel Roache, Sebastine Ikahihifo; John Palavi (c), James Bell; David Bhana. Interchange: Patrick Sipley, Paki Afu, Ray Talimalie, Kouma Samson.

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The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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