Junior Warriors face NYC table toppers Penrith
football pits the premiership-winning Junior Warriors against competition-leading Penrith at Centrebet Stadium next Monday.by NRL
football pits the premiership-winning Junior Warriors against competition-leading Penrith at Centrebet Stadium next Monday.
The John Ackland-coached 2010-2011 premiers inched up to fifth spot with their solid 30-8 win over Melbourne last Sunday while the Panthers took top spot without even playing from their two points from the bye.
But there's nothing in it with a logjam of five teams separated by just two points at the head of the table.
With nine wins and a draw, the Panthers lead with 21 points, Wests Tigers and Canberra follow on 20 points and Newcastle and the Vodafone Junior Warriors are locked on 19.
While the Vodafone Junior Warriors have been severely affected by injuries to key players this season they've been able to stay right in contention with eight wins and a draw from their 12 starts so far.
In a boost for such a vital contest, they could have a rare luxury this season of being able to field an unchanged line-up. The final combination won't be confirmed until an hour before kick-off but Ackland initially named the same starting side used against Melbourne and a bench showing six options including Trent Bishop, Albert Vete, Nathaniel Peteru and Toka Likiliki who were the final four used against the Storm.
Ackland has been forced to operate without a host of players so far this campaign. Experienced NYC players Donald Tony, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Siliva Havili are long-term casualties while Carlos Tuimavave and Omar Slaimankhel have also had stretches on the side-line; centre Braxton Stanley and Atu Tupou are out of commission and others such as Toka Likiliki, Nathaniel Peteru and Viliami Lolohea have returned from injury stints, the latter two only recently.
Lolohea lit the side up in his comeback appearance last Sunday with three tries against the Storm - earning him the players' player of the day vote - while Peteru has come back to add more size to the Vodafone Junior Warriors' bench.
Three of the team's forwards topped 100 metres last weekend, Ligi Sao with 181 metres from 16 runs, John Palavi 109 from 13 and Likiliki 105 from eight carries; Bishop (97 metres) and Peteru (96 metres) went close.
In all the Vodafone Junior Warriors gained almost 1700 metres against the Storm in a match in which they dominated with a 10-4 line breaks count, an outstanding completion rate of 33 from 38 sets and just 27 missed tackles.
Loose forward David Bhana maintained his exceptional work-rate levels with 53 tackles as well as 82 metres from 11 carries. While he has missed one game, he leads the NYC's tackling numbers with 422.
WARRIORS v PENRITH
Centrebet Stadium, Penrith
3.15pm, Monday, June 11
Referee: Gavin Morris
1 Omar Slaimankhel
2 Viliami Lolohea
3 Ngani Laumape
4 Ngataua Hukatai
5 Peta Hiku
6 Carlos Tuimavave
7 Mason Lino
8 Ligi Sao
9 Eko Malu
10 Siulongoua Fotofili
11 Sione Feao
12 John Palavi [c]
13 David Bhana
14 Trent Bishop
15 Albert Vete
16 Nathaniel Peteru
17 Chris Ofanoa
18 David Fusitua
20 Toka Likiliki
Coach: John Ackland
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