Junior Warriors too strong for Thunderbolts

An inexperienced Junior Warriors side engineered a thrilling recovery to convert an eight-point deficit into a 26-18 win over the Storm in Wednesday night’s eighth-round NYC clash at AAMI Park.

Fielding a side missing Omar Slaimankhel, Carlos Tuimavave, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Donald Tony – four of their most experienced players – the Junior Warriors were 10-18 down with 22 minutes to play.

Indeed after leading 10-4 they had conceded a try just on halftime and two more immediately after the break as the Storm seemed to be taking control.

Instead the two-times NYC premiers transferred the momentum with three tries in 10 minutes and then held the Storm out to complete their fifth win of the season.

Loose forward David Bhana scored the first of the tries in the triple strike as the Junior Warriors worked their way out of their end expertly to create the four-pointer for Bhana, a try Mason Lino converted to bring the score-line back to 16-18.

A few minutes later rapid-fire ball movement from a tap penalty produced another try for centre Sione Feao and captain John Palavi’s great run laid on a second try for the day for prop Siulongoua Fotofili. With Lino converting Fotofili’s try the Junior Warriors were eight points ahead, a lead they protected over the final 12 minutes.

Earlier Fotofili powered his way over from close range for the side’s first try while winger Ngataua Hukatai won the contest for a Jordan Meads bomb for the other first half try.

With the result the Junior Warriors have climbed to 11 points on the ladder, leading from the Sydney Roosters on points for and against although four teams all on 10 points are yet to play this round.

Match details:
At AAMI Park, Melbourne
Melbourne Storm 18 (Ryan Pooley, Richard Kennar, Kirisome Auva’a, Jarome Wilson tries; Matt McGahan conversion).
Junior Warriors 26 (Siulongoua Fotofili 2, Ngataua Hukatai, David Bhana, Sione Feao tries; Mason Lino 3 conversions).

Halftime: 10-8 Junior Warriors.
Referee: Gavin Atkins.