A Sione Moala penalty after the full-time siren gave the Vodafone Junior Warriors their first home win of the season when they edged the North Sydney Bears 26-24 in today’s 16th-round Jersey Flegg Cup clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
The home side had taken a 24-18 lead through a Junior Pua try with just eight minutes to play before the Bears replied to lock the match up with four minutes to play,
The Vodafone Junior Warriors hit their left edge in search of the match winner, twice making long breaks only to be found wanting for support.
With time almost up they broke clear again on the left and then shifted wide to the right where a try seemed certain. It didn’t come but the Bears were penalised for being inside the 10, Moala stepping up to calmly pilot the two-pointer through the posts from a handy angle.
It gave the Vodafone Junior Warriors their first win in Auckland this season and moved them within a point of the top eight.
They were never able to shake off the Bears despite starting strongly with early tries to centre Casey Smith and second rower Toni Tupouniua, North Sydney replied with a try of its own to leave the score 12-6 to the home team at the break.
The Bears stayed right in it throughout the second half and had a strong look a draw at the very least until the fateful late penalty.
At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 26 (Casey Smith, Toni Tupouniua, Sione Moala, Junior Pua tries; Sione Moala 4 conversions, penalty).
North Sydney Bears 24 (Lekendrick Masoe, Corey Fenning, Dean Barnes, Johnny Mitsias tries; Connor Garetty 4 conversions).
Halftime: 12-6 Vodafone Junior Warriors.
Vodafone Junior Warriors | Paul Turner; Selestino Ravutaumada, Casey Smith, Kayal Iro, Edward Kosi; William Fakatoumafi, Sione Moala; Eliesa Katoa, Sean Mullany, Wesley Veikoso; Toni Tupouniua, Tom Ale; Jyris Glamuzina. Interchange: Taniela Otukolo, Isaiah Vagana, Junior Pua, Michael Lemafa.