Big left wing Ken Maumalo scored one of the Vodafone Warriors' two tries in their New South Wales Cup finals loss to the Mounties on Saturday. Image | www.photosport.nz

Back-to-back defeats to the Mounties have left the Vodafone Warriors facing a stern challenge to keep their New South Wales Cup finals hopes alive next week.

After losing 10-36 to Canberra’s feeder club in their final regular season match the previous week, the Vodafone Warriors slumped to a 10-43 defeat in their week one finals clash against the same side at Belmore Sports Ground on Saturday.

While the minor premiership-winning Mounties now advance to week three of the play-offs, the Stacey Jones-coached Vodafone Warriors will make their third consecutive trans-Tasman trip next week seeking to stay in the competition.

Having finished fourth in the regular season, they earned a life which has handed them an elimination clash against Canterbury-Bankstown at Jubilee Oval in Kogarah next Sunday (6.10pm kick-off local time; 8.10pm NZT). The fifth-ranked Bulldogs eliminated the eighth-placed North Sydney 22-4 on Saturday.

The Vodafone Warriors are set to have their line-up strengthened next Sunday with the return of some of their eligible players who have been on NRL duty recently.

Several first-choice players were again missing when they took on the Mounties and soon found themselves down 0-12.

While they conceded a third try in the first half, they scored two of their own through wing Ken Maumalo and halfback Ray Talimalie to go to halftime just eight points adrift at 10-18.

If it provided cause for hope for the second period, it soon became evident the Mounties were in no mood to give the Vodafone Warriors the slightest sniff. Indeed they piled on 25 points without response in the second half to win 43-10.

Match details | Belmore Sports Ground

Mounties (1) 43 (Jeff Lynch 2, Stewart Mills, Mitch Cronin, Josh McCrone, Kyle O’Donnell, Rhys Kennedy tries; Sam Duggan 7 conversions, field goal).

Vodafone Warriors (4) 10 (Ken Maumalo, Ray Talimalie tries; Ata Hingano conversion).

Halftime: 18-10 Mounties.

Referee: Damien Briscoe.

Vodafone Warriors | Simon Luafalealo; Ken Maumalo, Konrad Hurrell, Marata Niukore, Willie Peace; Ata Hingano, Ray Talimalie; Upu Poching, Siliva Havili, John Palavi (c); Sione Fe’ao, James Bell; David Bhana. Interchange: Levi Norton, Jazz Tevaga, Stedman Lefau, Paul Tuli.