Warriors ISP Coach Stacey Jones before the Intrust Super Premiership Rugby League Match, New Zealand Warriors v Penrith Panthers, Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand, Sunday, August 28, 2016. Copyright photo: David Rowland / www.photosport.nz

Same team, same venue and same day of the week but the stakes are much bigger when the Vodafone Warriors take on Penrith in Sunday’s Intrust Super Premiership week one finals clash at Mount Smart Stadium (1.35pm kick-off).

It’s the first of three matches at the park with the Stacey Jones-coached side the only one of the club’s three teams to make it through to the play-offs this season.

Jones took the side to a top four finish last year only to exit the finals after losses to the Mounties and Canterbury Bankstown.

This time the Vodafone Warriors ended up just outside the top four but their fifth place finish rewarded them with a first-up home final against the eighth-placed Panthers.

The two sides face off for the second time in a week after Penrith won 36-24 last Sunday to sneak into the playoffs and now the Panthers make the trip back to Auckland for a contest of greater significance.

Jones welcomes back experienced prop James Gavet after being on NRL duty the last two weeks but he loses Bunty Afoa, who produced a herculean effort last week when he was on the field for 73 minutes, carrying the ball nine times for 90 metres and making an astonishing 47 tackles.

Also back in the squad is big interchange forward Pat Sipley who was ruled out last week after being injured in the warm-up.

Included on the bench is Vodafone Junior Warriors centre Junior Pauga, who scored two tries and kicked three goals in the NYC side’s 24-24 draw with Wests Tigers last Sunday.

Pauga’s absence has forced some shuffling in the Kelvin Wright-coached NYC team which takes on Parramatta at 3.45pm on Sunday.

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS v PENRITH PANTHERS

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

1.35pm, Sunday, September 4

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 HENARE WELLS

2 VILIAMI KAVEINGA

3 GEORGE CARMONT

4 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD

5 MATT ALLWOOD

6 ERIN CLARK

7 MASON LINO (c)

8 JAMES GAVET

9 JAZZ TEVAGA

10 TOAFOFOA SIPLEY

11 JOHN PALAVI

12 SHAUN LANE

13 LIGI SAO

Interchange:

14 JAMES BELL

15 UPU POCHING

16 PATRICK SIPLEY

17 JUNIOR PAUGA

COACH | STACEY JONES

 

VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v PARRAMATTA EELS

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

3.45pm, Sunday, September 4

 

VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS

1 KANE TELEA

2 LEWIS SOOSEMEA

3 JEROME MAMEA

4 MATT FAITATOA

5 PRESTON RIKI

6 DYLAN TAVITA

7 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA

8 KENESE KENESE

9 SHELDON PITAMA (c)

10 OFAHIKI OGDEN

11 MARATA NIUKORE

12 JOSEPH VUNA

13 CHRIS SIO

Interchange:

14 CYRUS TIMO-LATU

15 MATTAIS HEIMULI

16 JOSEPH PRICE

17 ELIJAH SUFIA

18 TYLER MOHI

COACH | KELVIN WRIGHT

BUY TICKETS NOW | VODAFONE WARRIORS v PARRAMATTA, MOUNT SMART STADIUM, SEPTEMBER 4 (6.00PM)