The Vodafone Junior Warriors' quest for their fourth win of the season came unstuck when the highly-placed Penrith Panthers ran away late to win 28-4 in Friday night's 19th-round NYC match at Manu Vatuvei Stadium.
Penrith’s Daniel Brown caught the Vodafone Junior Warriors' defence out to score early with Dean Blore converting for a 6-0 lead.
Soon after a last tackle Vodafone Junior Warriors kick found Penrith standoff Sam Martin-Savage instead and he broke through the home side's defensive line for a 95 metre try. Blore converted to give the Panthers a 12-0 lead.
Showing urgency on defence, the Vodafone Junior Warriors were still in the contest at the break.
The arm wrestle was on as both sides went set-for-set early in the second half but Penrith broke the Vodafone Junior Warriors down with wing Brian To’o slicing through the defence and shaking off two more defenders on his way to the line.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors had their first and ultimately only try of the night when halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita broke his side's duck with a classy step off his left to cross the line.
Unfortunately, time was against them with the Penrith Panthers seizing momentum against the hosts as they responded with two more tries, the first when Stefano Hala accelerated onto a grubber kick from Ray Maroun to cross the line. After another conversion, Blore extended the lead to 24-4.
In the 79th minute, Tom Skinner scored the last try of the match leaving the Vodafone Junior Warriors to reflect on a 24-point defeat.
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 4 (Chanel Harris-Tavita try).
Penrith Panthers 28 (Daniel Brown, Sam Martin-Savage, Brian To'o, Stefano Hala, Tom Skinner tries; Dean Blore 4 conversions).
Halftime: 12-0 Panthers.
Vodafone Junior Warriors | Lee Turner; Mark Graham, Melino Fineanganofo, Dean Kouka-Smith, Gibson Popoalii; Kane Telea, Chanel Harris-Tavita; Kenese Kenese (c), Lewis Sio, Tayhler Paora; Jerome Mamea, Joe Vuna; Chris Sio (c). Interchange: Soane Hufanga, Kelepi Lui, Sheldon Rogers, Troy Pulupaki.