Third quarter setbacks hurt the Vodafone Junior Warriors for the second week running as they fell to a tough 18-24 loss to the higher-ranked Newcastle Knights in today’s 14th-round NYC clash at Hunter Stadium.
A week ago they started the second half just 10-12 down but conceded two tries in the third quarter to fall behind 10-24 before losing 22-34.
Much the same happened again at Hunter Stadium today.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors were 12-6 ahead after a strong first half performance only for the Knights to cross in the 45th, 56th and 60th minutes to take them out to a 24-12 advantage.
Despite the lapses, there was ample time left for the Kelvin Wright-coached side to come back. While they created plenty of openings they couldn’t quite finish their work until an Erin Clark kick was brilliantly taken by wing Lewis Soosemea for his second try.
On a day when both goal-kickers were superb, fullback Kane Telea converted from the sideline to bring his side back to 18-24 with seven minutes left.
Back came the Vodafone Junior Warriors striving to at least level the contest up but they were ultimately beaten by the clock, left to rue the three unanswered tries they yielded after halftime.
Earlier Soosemea had opened the scoring in the 11th minute, hauling in a Clark bomb to the right after a Matt Faitotoa break.
In the 34th minute centre Marata Niukore used his big frame to run through defenders, reaching out to plant the ball for the halftime lead.
Throughout the contest the Vodafone Junior Warriors were able to make metres almost at will – almost 1700 in total – with five of the backs making more than 100 metres and breaking tackles effortlessly. Up front Bunty Afoa was again outstanding with 177 metres from 15 tackles as well as an astounding 46 tackles.
Match details | Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Newcastle Knights 24 (Jake McNamara, Heath Gibbs, Tom Starling, Jayden Butterfield tries; Jake McNamara 4 conversions).
Vodafone Junior Warriors 18 (Lewis Soosemea 2, Marata Niukore tries; Kane Telea 3 conversions).
Halftime: 12-6 Vodafone Warriors.
Referee: Peter Gough and Drew Oultram.
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: Tyler Mohi, Joseph Vuna, Keanu Dawson, Cyrus Timo-Latu.