Urgency and effort showed through but it wasn't enough for the Vodafone Junior Warriors to stop the Canberra Raiders taking out today's 23rd-round NYC clash 36-14 victory at Mount Smart Stadium.
The arm wrestle favoured the home side early leading to hooker Dylan Tavita stretching out for a sneaky try from a Joe Vuna offload. Chanel Harris-Tavita converted to give the Vodafone Junior Warriors a 6-0 lead.
Penalties impacted on the Vodafone Junior Warriors as they were forced to defend their line for a number of repeat sets. From one of the penalties Joe Vuna was sin binned for 10 minutes for a tackling infringement.
The home side defended bravely, though, and eventually forced an error to earn the right to get out of its end zone.
When the Vodafone Junior Warriors were awarded a penalty at the other end, they took up the option of two points for an 8-0 lead.
It would be the last time they scored until the closing moments as injuries bit hard.
Off a high kick, Dean Kouka-Smith and Canberra’s Sebastian Kris contested but Kris came away with the ball to score, Andre Niko’s conversion making it 8-6.
From the restart, Kris scored his second after Sione Afemui bulldozed through the hosts' defensive line. Niko’s missed conversion left the visitors leading just 10-8 at the break.
Canberra began the second half firing as wing Mikaele Ravalawa received a pass from Kris who scored. Niko’s conversion pushed the lead out to 16-8.
Momentum was firmly with the Raiders as Ravalawa crossed for his second try soon after before others followed for Hudson Young, Harry Van Dartel and Derek Hay with Niko converting two.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors didn't go away, scoring a late consolation try through captain Chris Sio under the posts.
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 14 (Dylan Tavita, Chris Sio tries; Chanel Harris-Tavita conversion, penalty; Dylan Tavita conversion).
Canberra Raiders 36 (Sebastian Kris 2, Mikaele Ravalawa 2, Hudson Young, Harrison van Dartel, Derek Hay tries; Andre Niko 4 conversions).
Halftime: 10-8 Raiders.
Vodafone Junior Warriors | Lee Turner; Israel Ogden, Dean Kouka-Smith, Kane Telea, Gibson Popoalii; Paul Turner, Chanel Harris-Tavita; Chris Sio (c), Dylan Tavita, Joe Vuna; Tyler Slade, Jerome Mamea; Melino Fineanganofo. Interchange: Tayhler Paora, Havi Tupouniua, Troy Pulupaki, Lewis Sio.