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Intrust Super Premiership NSW. Warriors v Knights. Mt Smart Stadium

Wyong advanced to next week's grand final after denying a fast-finishing Vodafone Warriors side to win 16-12 in today's Intrust Super Premiership preliminary final at Leichhardt Oval.

The Vodafone Warriors set themselves a difficult task after conceding a 0-12 halftime lead and then fell 0-16 behind just nine minutes into the second half.

It was the cue for a comeback which saw them score through Toaf Sipley in the 52nd minute and then Jazz Tevaga nine minutes later to trail by just four points with plenty of time left.

However, they were unable to convert any of a number of opportunities they had to go ahead in the last 15 minutes, the Roos hanging on resolutely to end the Vodafone Warriors' solid season one step short of the decider.

Wyong had wasted no time producing the game's first points, working to its right inside the first four minutes to give centre Joseph Manu some room to work in. He stood up the defence, the cover unable to round him up as he dashed in at the corner, Mitchell Cornish converting superbly for a 6-0 lead.

The Vodafone Warriors defended expertly on their own line to prevent a second strike, responding with repeat sets at Wyong's end off a penalty and a goal-line dropout.

When Wyong standoff Jayden Nikorima broke through the Vodafone Warriors scrambled well again and then generated some momentum with a sustained period inside the Roos' red zone.

Points wouldn't come, though, and there was also cause for anxiety when left centre Junior Pauga went down with a leg injury which forced a long stoppage in play. While he stayed on the field for a few minutes he was clearly struggling and was soon replaced, forcing a back-line reshuffle.

The Vodafone Warriors regrouped and came back at Wyong but wanted for execution on their last tackle plays.

At the 30-minute mark they needed more superb goal-line defence to jolt the ball loose as big Wyong forward Jake Lewis was looking to plant ball between the posts.

But three minutes later the Roos had reward, Nikorima chipping and brilliantly re-gathering to score, running around closer to the posts to hand Cornish a straightforward conversion for a valuable 12-0 lead closing in on halftime.

The Vodafone Warriors were under the pump, Wyong making big ground up the middle and earning a penalty for a shot at another try before the break.

The Roos appeared to loose possession but it was ruled the Vodafone Warriors had played at the ball giving Wyong yet another set in the red zone. The call was dubious and fortunately it wasn't costly, the Vodafone Warriors forcing an error as Wyong hunted a third try.

Having dodged a try then the Vodafone Warriors conceded one early in the second half when Manu had his second try of the day in the 48th minute.

At 0-16 down the Vodafone Warriors were in a hole but they conjured up the ideal response in a matter of minutes with Sipley powering up with an unstoppable surge from close range to go over between the posts. Mason Lino slotted the conversion to trim the deficit to 6-16.

Minutes later they again needed some stopping ability to prevent Wyong restoring its advantage.

The Vodafone Warriors steadied again, punched up the middle and Tevaga made it back-to-back tries for his side, ghosting across field, stepping off his right and scooting through. Lino converted from in front to have his side just four points behind at 12-16.

An Ata Hingano last tackle kick was left to bounce by the Wyong defence. There was a chance of forcing a goal-line dropout but the chasers couldn't round up fullback Luke Sharp who made it back into the field of play broke up the middle.

Back the Vodafone Warriors came making ground effortlessly up the middle only for a forward pass to be called.  

They were then reduced to 12 men heading into the last 11 minutes when Matt Allwood was sin binned for a professional foul.

Now the Vodafone Warriors needed real courage. They found it, too, with some marvellous defence to deny Wyong a try wide out. It was followed by a defensive penalty which allowed the Vodafone Warriors to work away from their end, followed by another penalty inside Wyong's half.

It was golden opportunity but an error followed, giving the Roos a passage out of danger. They threatened down their left but the Vodafone Warriors took wing Chris Centrone into touch.

With just six minutes left it was desperation time.

Lino went to the air to the right but the Roos defused the kick. Inside the last three minutes the Vodafone Warriors pressed with Hingano twice stretching the defence. 

An attacking scrum 10 metres out gave the visitors another chance. Albert Vete was held up, Ligi Sao had a charge, Isaiah Papali'i popped an offload out the back and Wyong knocked on. Another attacking scrum with two minutes to play.

The Vodafone Warriors hammered at the line and then went to the short side on the left but Ofa Ogden was rounded up by multiple defenders and taken into touch.

That was it. Wyong had a defensive scrum, held on and won the match to reach the grand final.

For the Vodafone Warriors, natural disappointment after what had been a solid campaign throughout the season. They pushed the year's minor premiers all the way - as they had in their two regular season mettings - but couldn't quite find a way. 



Leichhardt Oval, Sydney

Wyong Roos 16 (Joseph Manu 2, Jayden Nikorima tries; Mitchell Cornish 2 conversions).

Vodafon e Warriors 12 (Toafofoa Sipley, Jazz Tevaga tries;  try; Mason Lino 2 conversions).

Halftime: 12-0 Roos.

Vodafone Warriors | Zac Santo; Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Matt Allwood, Junior Pauga, Sam Cook; Mafoa'aeata Hingano, Mason Lino (c); Charlie Gubb, James Bell, Daniel Palavi; Ofahiki Ogden, Isaiah Papali'i; Albert Vete. Interchange: Manaia Cherrington, Jazz Tevaga, Ligi Sao, Toafofoa Sipley.

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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