Season over for Vodafone Junior Warriors
Saturday 15 September 2012 8:19 PM
The two top-ranked sides have both made early exits from the NYC finals, the Vodafone Junior Warriors following the Bulldogs with a second straight defeat as they succumbed 10-26 to the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium tonight.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors’ first loss in nine visits to ANZ Stadium ended their bid to win the premiership for the third straight year.
The Bulldogs and the Vodafone Junior Warriors both finished the regular season with just six losses each but are now left to reflect on finals campaigns which failed to deliver.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors again started poorly, as they had against Canberra last week. Against the Raiders they coughed up three tries in 13 minutes; this time it was two tries and a 0-10 deficit in the first 13 minutes.
The initial damage was checked at that point, the Vodafone Junior Warriors earning a healthy share of possession and then working their way into a position to reap rewards.
First clever ball work on the right side created a try for centre Ngataua Hukatai and then left winger David Fusitua’s skills were on show for his side’s second try as he snared a bomb wide out on the left, spun away from his opposite in the same movement and dashed 10 metres to score.
With the two tries coming in the space of 11 minutes, the Vodafone Junior Warriors were back in it, going to halftime locked at 10-10.
The grind was on when the contest resumed after the break and the Vodafone Junior Warriors were right in it, coming ever so close to scoring through Omar Slaimankhel.
While pressure was being created it was ultimately released when the Vodafone Junior Warriors opted for another set at the Roosters rather than taking a shot at goal from a penalty in front of the posts.
Soon after that decision the Roosters scored with fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck driving over from dummy half. The conversion missed but when the Roosters had the opportunity to take two points from a close-range penalty they didn’t hesitate, Chris Taripo knocking it over for a 16-10 lead.
The sting appeared to be going out of the Vodafone Junior Warriors, backing up after just a six-day turnaround not to mention the nature of their heart-breaking loss to Canberra.
The Roosters lifted their intensity, started making easy ground against a tiring defence and went over again in the 70th minute, Samisoni Langi the scorer.
With the conversion and a 22-10 lead the odds were all in the Roosters’ favour. There was time on the clock but a comeback wasn’t about to happen this time, the Roosters having the final say with an 80th-minute Taripo try.
While the top two teams have both been eliminated early, the seventh-placed Roosters and the eight-ranked St George Illawarra have made it through to the final four and have the chance next week to earn a spot in the grand final. The Roosters meet Wests Tigers while Canberra takes on the Dragons, both games being played at ANZ Stadium next Saturday ahead of the NRL preliminary final between Canterbury-Bankstown and the winner of tonight’s South Sydney-Canberra clash.
At ANZ Stadium, Homebush
Vodafone Junior Warriors 10 (Ngataua Hukatai, David Fusitua tries; Mason Lino conversion).
Sydney Roosters 26 (Chris Taripo 2, Ryley Jacks, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Samisoni Langi tries; Chris Taripo 2 conversions, penalty).
Referee: Gavin Atkins.
Vodafone Junior Warriors: Omar Slaimankhel; Viliami Lolohea, Ngataua Hukatai, Ngani Laumape, David Fusitua; Peta Hiku, Mason Lino; Ligi Sao, Siliva Havili, Siulongoua Fotofili; Sio Siua Taukeiaho, John Palavi (c); David Bhana. Interchange: Trent Bishop, Toka Likiliki, Nathaniel Peteru, James Taylor.