Fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad scored just before halftime in the Vodafone Warriors' ISP victory over Manly today. Image | www.photosport.nz

Fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad’s hat-trick was all in vain as the Vodafone Warriors lost 22-32 to the table-topping Mounties in today’s 20th-round Intrust Super Premiership encounter at GIO Stadium.

They were just 12-14 behind at halftime and trimmed the margin to two points again – 18-20 – 11 minutes into the second spell.

Each comeback was met with a response by the Mounties as they went into the final 18 minutes 18-26 down.

Again, though, there was reason to believe victory could be achieved when a sharp Mason Lino break created Nicoll-Klokstad’s third try. He couldn’t convert from wide out but the Vodafone Warriors were only four points adrift at 22-26 with six minutes to play.

Coming out of their end they picked up a penalty, giving them a terrific opportunity to steal the result only for Lino to miss touch with the kick when he went long. That would prove to be the end of the Vodafone Warriors’ hopes with the Mounties closing it out with a late Paul Vaughan try.

It was disappointing for the Vodafone Warriors after they were in the hunt throughout despite a poor start when they yielded two tries in the opening minutes.

They recovered well from that when centre Jonathan Wright was over the line but was held up. From the next play Lino pumped the ball towards the Mounties’ left corner where it was lost, handing the Vodafone Warriors six again.

Once more they hit their right, Lino shifting to Nicoll-Klokstad and he went on and on to score after an angled run. Lino’s conversion in the stiff breeze was right on the money to leave his side 6-8 behind.

The locals extended to 14-6 but close to halftime Nicoll-Klokstad had his second, Wright carving up the middle and off-loading in front of the posts for his fullback to score to leave the Vodafone Warriors right in touch.

Immediately after halftime they fell eight points behind again when Brent Naden scored.

Unperturbed the Vodafone Warriors regrouped. A cut-out pass went to ground but ended up with replacement centre Semisi Tyrell who went across, Lino’s conversion bringing his side back to 18-20.

Despite being in a position to double up the Vodafone Warriors were guilty of turning possession over at various stages of the match, leaving them unable to build sufficient pressure to take the match out.

Match details | GIO Stadium, Canberra

Mounties 32 (Kato Ottio, Alofi Mataele, Brenko Lee, Brent Naden, Clay Priest, Paul Vaughan tries; Sam Williams 4 conversions).

Vodafone Warriors 22 (Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 3, Semisi Tyrell tries; Mason Lino 3 conversions).

Halftime: 14-12 Mounties.

Vodafone Warriors | Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad; Viliami Kaveinga, Matt Allwood, Jonathan Wright, Henare Wells; Erin Clark, Mason Lino; Ligi Sao, Nathaniel Roache, Toafofoa Sipley; Ofahiki Ogden, Shaun Lane; John Palavi (c). Interchange: James Bell, Upu Poching, Pat Sipley, Semisi Tyrell.