The Vodafone Junior Warriors overcame a raft of line-up changes to bounce back from a heavy defeat last week to beat St George Illawarra 38-30 in their seventh-round Jersey Flegg Cup match against St George Illawarra at Mount Smart Stadium today.
Responding to last Saturday's 6-26 loss to Manly Warringah, the Vodafone Junior Warriors quickly rediscovered the mood that had carried them to their 26-10 victory over the Wests Tigers in round five.
They had to deal with some challenges to do the job, though, including line-up reshuffles brought about by the absence of halfback Eiden Ackland and hooker Lewis Sio.
Ackland's loss saw fullback Paul Turner moved into the halves, wing Kayal Iro shifted to fullback and Elijah Sufia brought in on the wing. Dylan Tavita came in to replace Sio while there was also a change on the bench with Sheldon Rogers returning.
The disruptions didn't impact on the players as they launched a series of raids which saw them surge to a 32-12 lead in the second half.
A convincing victory should have been in the offing but, instead, the Vodafone Junior Warriors had to withstand a withering blast which would see the Dragons come back to lose by only eight points.
Iro and Turner both bagged doubles.
At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 38 (Kayal Iro 2, Paul Turner 2, Wesley Veikoso, Preston Riki, Elijah Sufia tries; Dakohta Taimani 4 conversions; Dylan Tavita conversion).
St George Illawarra Dragons 30 (Jason Gillard 2, Jack Cross, Steven Marsters, Samuel McCann tries; Jackson Willis 5 conversions).
Vodafone Junior Warriors | Kayal Iro; Uenuku Malesala, Tom Ale, Carlos Henry, Elijah Sufia; Dakohta Taimani, Paul Turner; Soane Hufanga (c), Dylan Tavita, Wesley Veikoso; Sione Tuipulotu, Havi Tupouniua; Tyler Slade (c). Interchange: Edward Vaeau-Mulitalo, Preston Riki, Brody Tamarua, Sheldon Rogers.