Table toppers back home tomorrow night
Friday 20 July 2012 8:30 PM
The Vodafone Junior Warriors reappear in front of the faithful tomorrow night seeking to consolidate their position back at the top of the NYC table when they take on Newcastle in their 20th-round encounter at Mount Smart Stadium.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors took ownership of first place through a combination of their 38-22 win against Brisbane and previous leader Penrith losing to Wests Tigers last week.
With just seven games to play, the John Ackland-coached side now has a chance of repeating its minor premiership success last year which ultimately set up a second successive NYC premiership triumph.
While battling a high injury toll, especially among their more experienced players, the Vodafone Junior Warriors have responded to adversity by putting together a run of four straights wins over the last month enabling them to move ahead of the Panthers.
Their opponents tomorrow night are sitting eighth on the points table while in the following weeks the Vodafone Junior Warriors will face two teams currently inside the top eight and four outside it – Manly (15th), Cronulla (11th), North Queensland (14th), Penrith (2nd), St George Illawarra (9th) and Canberra (3rd). It’s a run of games offering the Vodafone Junior Warriors a fair chance of matching last year’s feat provided the attrition rate doesn’t work against them.
They will take a settled side into tomorrow night’s encounter, using an unchanged starting line-up with just one change likely in the final 17; centre Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard is set to return after six appearances earlier in the season to replace Sione Feao. Eko Malu has been named 18th man.
The individual highlight will be three-year NYC ‘veteran’ Carlos Tuimavave playing his 50th game in the competition. He becomes the second player in the squad to reach the mark this season after captain John Palavi hit 50 games a few weeks ago. It will bring to six the number of players who have appeared in 50 NYC games for the club, the others in order being Elijah Taylor and Nafe Seluini (in the same match in 2010), Siuatonga Likiliki and Ben Henry. Henry has the club record with 64 appearances.
Palavi is one of only two players in the squad – prop Ligi Sao is the other – to have appeared in all 17 matches so far this season while three others have missed just one game (David Bhana, Siulongoua Fotofili and Ngataua Hukatai).
In their last two wins against Gold Coast and Brisbane, the Vodafone Junior Warriors were at their menacing best for long periods in winning both games by the sane score-line of 38-22.
Against the Titans they had a 12-6 advantage in line breaks and 54-24 in tackle breaks.
Centre Ngani Laumape was chosen as the players’ player of the day, scoring a try, making two line breaks and gaining 124 metres from 10 carries. Stand-in winger Toka Likiliki was again the top ground gainer with 142 metres while hooker Trent Bishop caused plenty of damage, making 77 metres from five runs and coming up with 10 tackle breaks and three line breaks.
The team’s leading try scorers all added to their tallies against the Broncos, hooker Siliva Havili now with 11 tries from 15 games, winger Viliami Lolohea 10 from 10 and Laumape eight from 11.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
5.15pm, Saturday, July 21
Referee: Shane Rehm
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 PETA HIKU
2 VILIAMI LOLOHEA
3 NGANI LAUMAPE
4 NGATAUA HUKATAI
5 TOKA LIKILIKI
6 CARLOS TUIMAVAVE
7 MASON LINO
8 LIGI SAO
9 SILIVA HAVILI
10 NATHANIEL PETERU
11 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
12 JOHN PALAVI (c)
13 DAVID BHANA
14 TRENT BISHOP
15 SIULONGOUA FOTOFILI
16 ALBERT VETE
17 ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD
18 EKO MALU
COACH: JOHN ACKLAND