NYC Rd 17 Warriors 48 North Qld 16
Centre Ngani Laumape picked up a hat-trick as the Junior Warriors rediscovered their most potent form in a 48-16 victory over North Queensland in today's 17th-round NYC encounter at Mount Smart Stadium.by NRL
Centre Ngani Laumape picked up a hat-trick as the Junior Warriors rediscovered their most potent form in a 48-16 victory over North Queensland in today's 17th-round NYC encounter at Mount Smart Stadium.
The half century was within reach after the 48-point mark was reached with 15 minutes still to play but the home side couldn't find scoring touch again, settling for a 32-point margin, only fractionally inferior to the home side's biggest win of the season (48-14 against South Sydney).
They did concede an early try but it had no impact on their attitude as they strung together five tries in the first half to lead 24-6 at the break.
Former Palmerston North Boys' High School student Laumape was the chief beneficiary on a day when the Vodafone Junior Warriors were at their expressive best.
Laumape ignited the run with the first of his treble before captain John Palavi, centre Ngataua Hukatai, interchange hooker Trent Bishop and loose forward David Bhana followed. There was nothing the Cowboys could do to stem the flow as the Vodafone Junior Warriors settled into a rhythm in their first game back from their week off.
It was an even more impressive start given the disruptions caused to the side by several late line-up changes. With fullback Omar Slaimankhel called in as a replacement for the NRL side, Peta Hiku switched to fullback again; the left winger's berth would ordinarily have gone to David Fusitua who had been named on the bench but he was ruled out, head coach John Ackland opting instead to start with the imposing Toka Likiliki on the flank. Arguably the heaviest winger in the game at this level - close to 120kg - Likiliki is generally an interchange prop but has filled in on the wing from time to time this year. Also out was second rower Kouma Samson, resulting in 18-year-old Raymond Faitala-Mariner coming into the starting line-up for his debut.
The hot form continued in the second spell with three quality tries scored in the opening 13 minutes, one each to Laumape, prop Siulongoua Fotofili and winger Viliami Lolohea. Suddenly the score had blown out to 42-6 with 27 minutes still to play leaving the Vodafone Junior Warriors in a position to push on to perhaps their biggest score in history.
It didn't happen. First Cowboys winger Zac Santo ? who would score each of his side's three tries - had a try before Laumape had his third in the 65th minute. The shape then went out of the home team's game, errors crept in and there was drop in intensity leaving Santo to provide the only points in the final stanza.
With the competition-leading Penrith crashing to a shock 16-46 loss to South Sydney today, the Vodafone Junior Warriors are now on 25 points just behind the Panthers on 27 and Canberra on 26.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors' spree also did much to boost the Vodafone Junior Warriors' points for and against reading, now at plus 120. Most significantly they are again proving to be one of the best defensive sides in the competition; only one side - Canberra with 305 - has conceded fewer points than their 308.
While the 32-point margin was satisfying in the end, it was the provisional key game statistics which showed just how dominant the Vodafone Junior Warriors had been - metres gained favoured them 1667-1015, total runs 169-113, line breaks 12-3, tackles made 196-314, missed tackles a whopping 9-64.
Of the individuals few were more impressive than the big man Likiliki, playing the full 80 minutes on the wing, making 168 metres from 12 runs and including a line break. The other 100-metre men were Ligi Sao (159), James Taylor (153), Carlos Tuimavave (130), Peta Hiku (121), Bishop (116), Laumape (109) and Fotofili (105). As usual Bhana was the defensive leader with 35 tackles.
Next Saturday the Vodafone Junior Warriors are away to Gold Coast, running second from bottom with just three wins.
At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Junior Warriors 48 (Ngani Laumape 3, John Palavi, Ngatau Hukatai, Trent Bishop, David Bhana, Siulongoua Fotofili, Viliami Lolohea tries; Mason Lino 6 conversions).
North Queensland Cowboys 16 (Zac Santo 3 tries; Sam Foster 2 conversions).
Halftime: 24-6 Vodafone Junior Warriors.
Referee: Shane Rehm.
Warriors: Peta Hiku; Viliami Lolohea, Ngani Laumape, Ngataua Hukatai, Toka Likiliki; Carlos Tuimavave, Mason Lino; Ligi Sao, Siliva Havili, Nathaniel Peteru; Raymond Faitala-Mariner, John Palavi (c); David Bhana. Interchange: Siulongoua Fotofil, Trent Bishop, Sione Feao, James Taylor.
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