A late rally fell short as the Vodafone Junior Warriors slipped to a 22-34 loss to Brisbane in today’s 13th-round NYC clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
After the Broncos had surged to a 24-10 lead with two converted tries midway through the second half, the home side responded with a stirring comeback.
First wing Lewis Soosemea produced a powerhouse try out of dummy half in the 62nd minute for the Vodafone Junior Warriors to close to 16-24.
And seven minutes later 17-year-old rookie standoff Chanel Harris-Tavita sparked the home side right up when a huge left-foot step took him through the line and across for a superb try. Fullback Kane Telea converted both tries to have the Vodafone Junior Warriors just 22-24 down with 10 minutes left to push on for a go-ahead try.
They had opportunities, too, but as they pressed at Brisbane’s line a last tackle grubber was snaffled, the Broncos going the length of the field for centre Jamayne Isaako to score his second try and convert for a 30-22 lead.
With time running out, the home side was again on attack but once more turned over possession and Brisbane closed the match out with Isaako’s third try in the final minute.
There had been little between the two teams in a high quality first half which saw the completion rates at 80 per cent plus.
After second rower Joseph Price had opened the scoring, the Broncos scored twice to take a 12-6 lead with halftime approaching but the home side grabbed a valuable opportunity in the final minute.
After Soosemea was stopped short, centre Marata Niukore powered over from dummy half to leave his side the Vodafone Junior Warriors just 10-12 behind at the break.
Ball security dropped off for both sides, a series of errors leaving the Vodafone Junior Warriors on a prolonged defensive shift ultimately resulting in Brisbane taking full advantage to go 14 points clear.
It proved to be telling in the end but not before the home side’s comeback provided more than a chance of victory.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 22 (Joseph Price, Marata Niukore, Lewis Soosemea, Chanel Harris-Tavita tries; Kane Telea 3 conversions).
Brisbane Broncos 34 (Jamayne Isaako 3, Gerome Burns, Kalolo Saitaua, Corey Allan tries; Jamayne Isaako 5 conversions).
Halftime: 12-10 Broncos.
Referees: Peter Gough and Chris Treneman.
Vodafone Junior Warriors | Kane Telea; Lewis Soosemea, Junior Pauga, Marata Niukore, Matt Faitiotoa; Erin Clark, Chanel Harris-Tavita; Bunty Afoa, Sheldon Pitama (c), Kenese Kenese; Ofahiki Ogden, Joseph Price; Chris Sio. Interchange: Keanu Dawson, Joseph Vuna, Jerome Mamea, Cyrus Timo-Latu.