top of page

Comeback wins for NZ Warriors futures teams

NZ Warriors NSW Cup rugby league
The NZ Warriors are just outside the top-six after 13 rounds of the NSW Cup. PHOTO: NSW CUP

A stirring 24-16 comeback win secured a home and away double for the NZ Warriors over the Sydney Roosters in Sunday’s Round 13 New South Wales Cup contest in Sydney.

Just three weeks ago, they recovered from a 14-4 halftime deficit to beat the Roosters 26-20 at North Harbour Stadium.


And they found themselves in a similar position in the return encounter after the home side extended a 12-6 halftime lead to 16-6 in the opening minutes of the second half - then a change came across the match.

Resilience has been a notable trait of Warriors teams through the grades again this season it showed through in spades at Wentworth Park.

The fightback started not too long after Demitric Sifakula, on the comeback from knee surgery, had carried the ball powerfully to give his team good field position.

He went close to scoring himself soon after before the Warriors hit their right side, centre Moala Graham-Taufa – back in the NSW Cup after his NRL heroics last week – running a great line against the grain to score off a Ben Farr pass.

Motu Pasikala’s conversion narrowed the gap to 16-12 and then Graham-Taufa was at it again against his former club in the 61st minute.

From a quick tap from a penalty 10 metres out he caught the Roosters out, charging on an angled run through multiple defenders to get the ball down between the posts.

From 10 points down, the Warriors had shot into an 18-16 lead with eight minutes to play.

They were controlling the match and effectively sealed the result four minutes later after concerted pressure, a short side play on the left seeing standoff Caleb Laiman give big left wing Edward Kosi an open passage to score in the corner. Pasikala completed a perfect day with the boot adding his fourth conversion.

The Warriors had made some changes to their originally selected side with second rower Eddie Ieremia moved into the centres and Leka Halasima and Jacob Laban starting in the second row.

While Graham-Taufa's double and Kosi's late touchdown were the keys to victory, the try of the day was the Warriors' first in the 30th minute when Farr made a sensational break from 60 metres out, weaving in and out of defenders before off loading close to the Roosters' line for Luke Hanson to score.

The seventh win of the season still has the Warriors seventh on the ladder on 15 points but just a point behind the Dragons (fifth) and Bulldogs (sixth).

Comeback wins are also becoming a speciality for the Warriors in the Jersey Flegg Cup and they produced another thriller in beating the high-flying Sydney Roosters 20-16 in Sunday’s Round 13 clash in Sydney.

Backing up their exhilarating 28-24 victory over the Melbourne Storm a week earlier, the Warriors have now delivered four wins and a draw in their last seven outings in the under-21 competition.

Against the Storm, they recovered from a 20-6 halftime deficit before a run of 22 points in 18 minutes propelled them to their four-point success.

The circumstances were markedly different on Sunday. The Warriors were hot from the outset with tries to second rower Alvin Chong Nee and prop Rodney Tuipulotu Vea firing them to a 12-0 lead inside 16 minutes, an advantage they protected until the halftime break.

The script went awry in the second spell, though, as the Warriors allowed the Roosters to seize the momentum by scoring four tries in succession – all unconverted – to take a 16-12 lead with just nine minutes to go.

There was still time, though, and the Warriors found a way once again.

With four minutes to go they shifted the ball wide to the right, centre Siale Faeamani with a terrific catch and pass effort under pressure to give winger Raphael Sio an opening from 10 metres out. He had defenders around him but powered across superbly to level the scores at 16-16.

All the heat was on Maui Winitana-Patelesio as he lined up the conversion but the 19-year-old St Patrick's College Silverstream product was unfazed, nailing it to give the Warriors an 18-16 lead.

In the dying moments fullback William Piliu added his second penalty of the day for a pulsating 20-16 win.

No question goal kicking was everything, the Warriors slotting four goals from five attempts while the Roosters failed with every shot at goal.

It was another performance founded on grit and resilience, the Warriors dominating possession on a day when they made just eight errors and missed only 12 tackles.

With four wins and a draw, they now sit on 11 points and up to 11th on the table. They are away again next weekend, flying to Fiji where they take on the Silvertails in Lautoka on Saturday.


bottom of page