After spotting Melbourne an early 10-0 lead, the Vodafone Junior Warriors powered up to claim a six-try 30-16 win – their first victory of the season – in today’s third-round NYC clash at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.
Having lost competitive encounters with Wests Tigers (12-26) and Brisbane (8-14), the Kelvin Wright-coached side eventually found its groove in a display oozing enthusiasm and energy.
Not that it looked like going that way when they Vodafone Junior Warriors conceded two soft tries in the first six minutes but having experienced that rocky start the young side just as quickly transformed the tone of the contest.
The initial catalyst was first-year fullback Kane Telea, a Mount Wellington Warriors junior and Sacred Heart College product. He impressed with a slick try in the 11th minute to check Melbourne’s momentum and then had a second in the 28th minute to have the battle all locked up 10-10.
Right on halftime big interchange front rower Keanu Dawson underlined the tempo shift when he thundered over irresistibly to help the Vodafone Junior Warriors to a 16-10 lead at the break.
Picking up where they left off at the end of the first half, they came out confidently in the second spell by putting on tries in the 50th and 57th minutes to take a valuable 24-10 lead.
In just his second game in the grade half Eiden Ackland latched onto an audacious Joseph Price off load to score the first before another big man Tualima Tualima bulldozed over for the second.
There was ample time left and the Storm closed to within eight points with their third try with 15 minutes still to play but the powerhouse Dawson was too much to handle again with his second try and the clincher in the 71st minute.
The stats underlined the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ dominance as they completed 28 or 36 sets and Melbourne only 17 of 36 due to no fewer than 20 errors. The metres gained numbers were overwhelmingly in the home side’s favour at 1544-997 as were the line breaks (8-4), off loads (19-7), tackles made (231-346) and tackles missed (14-34).
Telea made 157 metres from 10 runs and prop Isaiah Papalii 176 from 19.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 30 (Kane Telea 2, Keanu Dawson 2, Eiden Ackland, Tualima Tualima tries; Kane Telea 3 conversions).
Melbourne Storm 16 (Josh Kerr, Jesse Arthars, Nat McGavin tries; Jesse Athars 2 conversions).
Halftime: 16-10 Vodafone Junior Warriors.
Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski.
Vodafone Junior Warriors | Kane Telea; Lewis Soosemea, Junior Pauga, Filipo Fahiua, Levi McBirney; Eiden Ackland, Sheldon Pitama (c); Isaiah Papalii, Chris Sio, Kenese Kenese; Ofahiki Ogden, Joseph Price; Joseph Vuna. Interchange: Jerome Mamea, Keanu Dawson, Tualima Tualima, Koli Oneone.