The Junior Warriors conceded healthy leads twice to allow Canberra to snatch a remarkable 32-28 victory in today’s sixth-round NYC game at Canberra Stadium.
After allowing the Raiders to score the opening try of the day, the Junior Warriors then poured on the power with four unanswered tries to take a 22-6 lead into the break.
What looked like a serious knee injury for debutant prop Atu Tupou had a significant effect on the Junior Warriors, so much so the Raiders scored twice in the next 12 minutes to draw back to 18-22 after 53 minutes.
The Junior Warriors urgently needed to regroup and get back into their rhythm. They did and did so well, hooker Siliva Havili coming up with one of his speciality dummy half tries, his 14th NYC try. With Sio Siua Taukeiaho’s conversion the Junior Warriors were back out to a 10-point advantage but, when they needed to, they couldn’t go on with it let alone hold Canberra back.
With 12 minutes to go they still had their lead but it all went awry from there. First halfback Mitch Cornish took on the line and stepped through to score; two minutes later the Raiders went to their left edge and the flying Malcolm Coongoo scorched away for his second long-range effort; and in the 74th minute Cornish put standoff Mitchell Cronin over for what turned out to be the match-winner.
While there was time to regain the lead, the Junior Warriors couldn’t find inspiration to rebound from Canberra’s amazing comeback.
Earlier defeat had looked highly unlikely when captain John Palavi, David Bhana, Taukeiaho and Sione Feao all scored to give the Junior Warriors a winning platform in the first half.
At Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Canberra Raiders 32 (Malcolm Coongoo 2, Edrick Lee, Jack Ahearn, Mitchell Cornish, Mitchell Cronin tries; Mitchell Cornish 4 conversions).
Junior Warriors 28 (John Palavi, David Bhana, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Sione Feao, Siliva Havili tries; Sio Siua Taukeiaho 4 conversions).
Halftime: 22-6 Junior Warriors.
Referee: Michael Laverty.
Junior Warriors: Omar Slaimankhel; Viliami Lolohea, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Sione Feao, Peta Hiku; Mason Lino, Jordan Meads; Siulongoua Fotofili, Siliva Havili, Ligi Sao; Chris Ofanoa, John Palavi (c); David Bhana. Interchange: Toka Likiliki, Jethro Friend, Atu Tupou, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard.