A 10-minute period in the second half ultimately cost the Vodafone Junior Warriors their first win of the season when they went down 30-34 to the Gold Coast Titans in today's NYC clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
With less than ten minutes to go the Titans were leading 34-14 before the Vodafone Junior Warriors began to mount pressure resulting in tries to wing Edward Vaeaeu-Mulitalo and centres Kane Telea and Gibson Popoalii but it wasn’t enough with the clock beating them.
The Titans had opened the scoring early to lead 6-0 but, after gaining a share of possession, the Vodafone Junior Warriors answered back with hooker Erin Clark’s off load giving halfback Dylan Tavita the chance to go over and score. He was unable to convert the try to leave the Titans with a 6-4 lead.
It triggered a promising spell for the Vodafone Junior Warriors as they stitched together more points. Standoff Chanel Harris-Tavita popped the ball over the top for wing Lewis Soosemea to score in the left corner, leaving the Vodafone Junior Warriors 8-6 ahead.
Loose defence gifted Titans standoff Ethan Roberts a try which he converted for a 12-8 lead.
It was arm wrestle time and the Vodafone Junior Warriors dug in, staying patient to breach Gold Coast's line. They went to the left creating a huge hole for second rower Preston Riki to wander through off a Tavita-Harris short ball. Converted by Dylan Tavita, it gave the Vodafone Junior Warriors a 14-12 lead at the break.
The Titans came out firing in the second half and the Vodafone Junior Warriors found them difficult to contain.
There was some pinball football down the Titans' left edge allowing wing Jordan Birch to score. The Titans were up 18-14.
Mistakes presented the Titans with another opportunity with Brimson taking advantage to score before Moeaki Fotuaika barged over for another try. And then Curtis Dansey-Smaller caused more scoreboard damage to take Gold Coast out to an imposing 34-14 lead.
Facing the possibility of a heavy defeat, the Vodafone Junior Warriors regrouped and began to build some momentum setting up for wing Vaeau-Muiltalo to collect a grubber for a try out wide.
Another grubber kick provided an easy scoring opportunity for Telea with Tavita converting to bring the score back to 24-34.
While time was against them snatching a comeback win, the Vodafone Junior Warriors weren't done with yet with. Big metres from prop Kenese Kenese and then quick ball movement delivered a try for Popoalii and a four-point loss.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 30 (Dylan Tavita, Lewis Soosemea, Preston Riki, Edward Vaeau-Mulitalo, Kane Telea, Gibson Popoalii tries; Dylan Tavita 3 conversions).
Gold Coast Titans 34 (Corey Manicaros, Ethan Roberts, Jordan Birch, AJ Brimson, Moeaki Fotuaika, Curtis Dansey-Smaller tries; Ethan Roberts 5 conversions).
Halftime: 14-12 Vodafone Junior Warriors.
Vodafone Junior Warriors | Lee Turner; Lewis Soosemea, Gibson Popoalii, Kane Telea, Edward Vaeau-Mulitalo; Chanel Harris-Tavita, Dylan Tavita; Kenese Kenese, Erin Clark, Chris Sio; Joe Vuna, Preston Riki; Isaiah Papali'i (c). Interchange: Soane Hufanga, Keanu Laumatia-Paki, Tyler Slade, Nathan Newton.