For the second week running the Vodafone Junior Warriors have muscled up against higher-ranked opposition to grind out victory, beating the fifth-placed Sydney Roosters 22-14 in today’s 19th-round Jersey Flegg Cup encounter at Mount Smart Stadium.
The win followed their gritty 14-12 success against second-placed Penrith last Sunday giving them back-to-back triumphs for the first time this season.
The home side stayed in the grind in the opening quarter before winger Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard scored an unconverted try in the 19th minute.
Halfback Eiden Ackland then snared a double, his second a 95-metre effort when he opened up the Roosters’ defence from in front of his own goal posts.
That had the Vodafone Junior Warriors out to a handy 14-0 lead at the end of the first 35-minute spell.
There was a suspicion it wouldn’t be enough, though.
Back came the Roosters in the second half, first preventing the Vodafone Junior Warriors from adding to their tally and then turning up the heat with two converted tries to trail by just two points before levelling up 14-14 with a penalty seven minutes from full-time.
Two minutes later Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard put the Vodafone Junior Warriors ahead 16-14 with a two-pointer.
They repelled the Roosters and then punched downfield, Ackland pumping through a long grubber kick towards the visitors’ right-hand corner. They failed to cover it, the ball went loose and rookie centre Siave Tupou pounced to score. Tuimavave-Gerrard’s splendid conversion from the side-line had the home side safe.
The fifth win of the season leaves the Vodafone Junior Warriors 10th, four points outside the top eight.
At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 22 (Eiden Ackland 2, Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard, Siave Tupou tries; Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard 2 conversions, penalty).
Sydney Roosters 14 (Sam Verrills, Daniel Suluka-Fifita tries; Adam Pompey 2 conversions, conversion).
Halftime: 14-0 Vodafone Junior Warriors.
Referee: Paki Parkinson.
Vodafone Junior Warriors | Kayal Iro; Harley Maynard, Casey Smith, Siave Tupou, Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard; Paul Turner, Eiden Ackland; Lotu Inisi, Taane Paki, Wesley Veikoso; Preston Riki, Phillip Makatoa; Tyler Slade (c). Interchange: Temple Kalepo, Junior Pua, Kakoa Togoiu, Soane Hufanga.