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ISAIAH PAPALII. NRL Holden Cup, Juniors U20's. Warriors v Sea Eagles. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. Saturday 9 April  2016. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /

The Vodafone Junior Warriors narrowly failed to reel in the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs losing 26-30 in today’s seventh-round NYC match at Belmore Sports Ground in Sydney.

Coming of their second win of the season against Manly (28-20), victory today would have left the Vodafone Junior Warriors just outside the top eight.

With the Bulldogs taking their NRL home game to Wellington, today’s NYC fixture was still scheduled as a Canterbury-Bankstown home match in Sydney.

The Bulldogs went into the contest 15th on two points with the Vodafone Junior Warriors just ahead of them on four points.

As it played out, the visiting side was cast into a catch-up role for much of theday and nearly came through only to be undone by the clock.

After yielding an early try, the Vodafone Junior Warriors levelled up at 6-6 with the first of prop Isaiah Papalii’s two tries, converted by halfback Zion Ioka.

However, by halftime, they had fallen 12 points adrift with the Bulldogs collecting two further tries for an 18-6 lead. 

They responded well at the start of the second half, drawing back to 10-18 with centre Melino Fineanganofo crossing for his first NYC try only to allow Canterbury-Bankstown to gain the upper hand again with a fourth converted try giving it a 24-10 advantage.

Fineanganofo’s second try and Ioka’s conversion left the Vodafone Junior Warriors eight points behind again at 16-24 before the Bulldogs went 14 clear with their fifth try inside the final 10 minutes.

There wasn’t a lot of racetrack left but the Vodafone Junior Warriors weren’t letting that affect their approach as they moved within eight points once more with Papalii’s second try, converted by Kane Telea this time.

There was time for a fifth try – to wing Levi McBirney – but that was in the final seconds and too late to prevent a four-point loss, the Bulldogs just ahead through a five-from-five goal-kicking display while the Vodafone Junior Warriors missed two of their five conversion attempts.

Next up is another Trans-Tasman trip tomorrow week (Sunday, April 24) when the Vodafone Junior Warriors face Melbourne at Sunshine Coast Stadium at Kawana Waters (Melbourne’s NYC side is now based on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, playing its home games there).

Match details | Belmore Sports Ground, Sydney 

Vodafone Junior Warriors 26 (Isaiah Papalii 2, Melino Fineanganofo 2, Levi McBirney tries; Zion Ioka 2 conversions; Kane Telea conversion).

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 30.

Halftime: 18-6 Bulldogs.

Referee: Liam Nicholls

Vodafone Junior Warriors | Kane Telea; Lewis Soosemea, Junior Pauga, Melino Fineanganofo, Levi McBirney; Erin Clark, Zion Ioka; Bunty Afoa (vc), Chris Sio, Isaiah Papalii; Ofahiki Ogden, Joe Vuna; Kenese Kenese. Interchange: Tualima Tualima, Sheldon Pitama (c), Chanel Harris-Tavita, Keanu Dawson.

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