Erin Clark during the Junior Warriors v Junior Knights match. NYC Holden Cup U20s Rugby League. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. New Zealand. Anzac Day, Sunday 31 May 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.co.nz

After the challenge of taking on the table-topping Penrith last week the Vodafone Junior Warriors face second-placed North Queensland as they strive to stay in the hunt for finals football in today’s 24th-round NYC clash at Mount Smart Stadium (5.10pm kick-off; game day theme: Members’ Appreciation Day; match day sponsor: Woodstock).

Last Saturday’s 28-36 loss to the Panthers and other results across the round have seen the 2014 NYC premiers slip to seventh on the ladder.

With three rounds to play in the regular season, the Vodafone Junior Warriors are still on 25 points with 10 wins, a draw and 10 losses. They’re just a point clear of the eighth-placed Wests Tigers with Melbourne two points back in ninth place.

When the Vodafone Junior Warrior met the Cowboys in Townsville in April, they had victory in sight only to allow a fast-finishing North Queensland to draw 28-28.

Since then the Cowboys have had just one loss and have won their last 11 straight to sit just one point behind Penrith on the ladder. They’re the most prolific points-scoring team in the competition having amassed 845 points while also boasting the best defensive record.

The Vodafone Junior Warriors welcome back promising young wing Lewis Soosemea today but they’ve lost playmaker Mikaere Beattie. That results in Erin Clark switching from hooker back to halfback and Casey Lafaele starting at hooker. The rest of the starting pack named remains unchanged from the combination used in recent weeks.

Fullback Brad Abbey and prop Bunty Afoa are in sight of reaching the 50-game milestone. They’ll both play their 48th game this week. Afoa is doubling up today; he’s due to make his New South Wales Cup debut from the bench at 1.00pm before turning out for the NYC team at 5.10pm.

 

VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

5.10pm, Saturday, August 22

Referee: Shane Rehm

 

VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS

1 BRAD ABBEY

2 LEWIS SOOSEMEA

3 JUNIOR PAUGA

4 SEMISI TYRELL

5 PAUL ULBERG

6 KAURI AUPOURI

7 ERIN CLARK

8 BUNTY AFOA

9 CASEY LAFAELE

10 PAUL TULI

11 OFAHIKI OGDEN

12 MATIU LOVE-HENRY

13 JAZZ TEVAGA

Interchange:

14 CHRIS SIO

15 KOLI ONEONE

16 TUALIMA TUALIMA

17 AMONI TUFUI

COACH: KELVIN WRIGHT