Junior Warriors handed first home defeat

Canterbury-Bankstown handed the Junior Warriors their first home defeat in almost two years, their run of wins stopped at 20 after they lost 16-28 in today’s third-round NYC encounter at Mount Smart Stadium.

While playing below their best, the back-to-back NYC premiers remained in contact and worked their way to a 12-10 lead after 29 minutes. It wasn’t to last, the Bulldogs going ahead again on halftime and never being headed after that.

After the Bulldogs had been awarded a dubious try to prop Michael Ioapo – he appeared to be held up – the Junior Warriors bit back with a well-constructed try to prop Visesio Setefano. It followed a storming run from hooker Siliva Havili, John Palavi busting the line and flipping up a nice left-handed off load for Setefano to race onto.

Just as quickly the Bulldogs were back in front after the Junior Warriors were stretched up the middle and then done for numbers on their right side, enabling John Sila to score wide out.

Havili then produced one of his specials, powering over from dummy half to get his side in front for the first and only time in the match before the Bulldogs rebounded instantly to regain the lead.

They leapt out to a 10-point advantage 22-12 soon after the break but it was back to 22-16 with a nicely worked try for Junior Warriors left winger Ngataua Hukatai in the 55th minute.

There was a sniff of one of the side’s typical comebacks as they sought to protect their home record. Certainly they didn’t lack opportunities but the finish wasn’t there today.

The critical moment came in the 71st minute as the Junior Warriors continued to press for a try that could level things up. From a scrum they went wide to the right, speedster Viliami Lolohea racing in at the corner only for the officials to rule he had gone into touch just before getting the ball down. Replays supported the call.

From the resulting tap on the 20, the Bulldogs rumbled downfield too easily and finished up constructing a try for interchange forward Paul Carter, Frederick Robinson converting and the visitors were 28-16 ahead.

With seven minutes to play, there was still time for the Junior Warriors to arrange a late rally to perhaps snatch a draw but this wasn’t one of their days.

After three rounds they two wins and a loss. They face Gold Coast at Mount Smart Stadium next Saturday night.