The Vodafone Warriors were given the ideal workout by the Counties Manukau Stingrays ahead of the 2020 Canterbury Cup season when the two sides went head-to-head in Papakura on Sunday.
After the sides were locked 8-8 at halftime, the home side led 12-8 briefly in the second half before the Justin Morgan-coached Vodafone Warriors went on to win 32-20 (eight tries to five with no conversions taken).
The Vodafone Warriors field a team featuring one player with NRL experience in halfback Adam Keighran who was supported by a mix of players used at Canterbury Cup or Jersey Flegg level last year (some played both) plus other young emerging performers.
Four players signed by the club on development contracts were used – fullback Israel Ogden, winger Selestino Ravutaumada, middle forward Tom Ale and back rower Tyler Slade.
Ogden, Ravutaumada, Keighran, Ale, Slade, back rower Isaiah Vagana, hooker Temple Kalepo, winger Setu Tu and prop Preston Riki were all used in the Vodafone Warriors’ NRL trial against Melbourne in Palmerston North on February 22.
At Massey Park, Papakura
Vodafone Warriors 32 (Selestino Ravutaumada, Tom Ale, Temple Kalepo, Nicholas Halalilo, Tyler Slade, Sean Mullany, Neyla Masima, Harley Maynard tries).
Counties Manukau Stingrays 20 (Nick Worthington, Alan Niuvelu, Connor Taura-Purcell, Richard To’ai, Jacob Paula tries).
Vodafone Warriors | Israel Ogden; Selestino Ravutaumada, Jerome Mika, Emeliano Mikaele, Setu Tu; Casey Smith, Adam Keighran; Tom Ale, Temple Kalepo, Preston Riki; Isaiah Vagana, Nicholas, Halalilo; Tyler Slade. Interchange: Sean Mullany, Michael Lemafa, Neyla Masima, William Fakatoumafi, Harvey Maynard, Jyris Glamuzina. Coach: Justin Morgan.
Counties Manukau Stingrays | Nick Worthington; Kamelia Vasu, Tahi Baggaley, Wesley Tauti, Alan Niuvelu; Taane Paki, Willie Stowers (c); Donny Tuivai-Lopa, Leonard Petelo, Connor Taura-Purcell; Antanasio Kuea, Tayhler Paora; Brandon Lee. Interchange: Luke Armiger, Junior Pita, Filipe Vaeafisi, Richard To’ai, Denzel Wiki, Lewis Soosemea, Jacob Paulo, Pone Tongia. Coach: Spencer Taplin.