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A fast start wasn’t enough to help the Vodafone Junior Warriors to victory as North Sydney recovered to win 24-16 in the opening round of the new Jersey Flegg Cup competition at Mount Smart Stadium.

The under-20 competition was created by the New South Wales Rugby League to fill the void left by the demise of the National Youth Competition.

The early signs suggested the home side was going to revel in it. With tries to Eiden Ackland and Paul Turner, the Vodafone Junior Warriors were 12-0 ahead after just 15 minutes.

But the Bears, South Sydney’s feeder club, began to gain some momentum and scored twice to trail just 10-12 at halftime. Two more tries early in the second half had them out to a 20-12 advantage.

While the Vodafone Junior Warriors responded with a try to fullback Tevita Mikaele they couldn’t follow it up, the Bears scoring again to take an eight-point lead and holding on over the final 15 minutes.

 At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

Vodafone Junior Warriors 16 (Eiden Ackland, Paul Turner, Tevita Mikaele tries; Eiden Ackland 2 conversions).

North Sydney Bears 24 (Joshua Cook 2, Ethan Abou-Ghaida, Kane Allan, Tyrone Taukamo tries; Kieran Hayman 2 conversions).

Halftime: 12-10 Vodafone Junior Warriors.

Vodafone Junior Warriors | 1 Tevita Mikaele; 2 Kayal Iro, 3 Elijah Sufia, 4 Patrick Elia, 5 Edward Kosi; 6 Paul Turner, 7 Eiden Ackland; 8 Soane Hufunga (c), 9 Sheldon Rogers, 10 Wesley Veikoso; 11 Harvey Tupouniua, 12 Preston Riki; 13 Tayhler Paora. Interchange: 15 Tom Ale, 16 Lotu Inisi, 17 Brody Tamarua, 18 Dylan Tavita.

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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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