Junior Warriors too good for South Sydney in final
A 30-point second half rampage carried the Junior New Zealand Warriors to the club's first premiership crown when they beat South Sydney 42-28 to win the National Youth Competition (NYC) rugby league grand final in Sydney.
It was the fifth time a team from the club had reached a grand final since entering the competition but this was the first bid that had ended in triumph.
Previously the Warriors lost the 2002 National Rugby League grand final, the reserve grade grand finals in 1996 and 1997 and the under-19 season finale in 1997.
The Junior Warriors suffered a setback before the game when captain Ben Henry was ruled out with an ankle injury. With Henry out, Henry Chan-Ting was called up to start at hooker with Elijah Taylor going to the second row and also taking over the captaincy.
The Junior Warriors were narrowly ahead 12-10 at halftime but were in dazzling touch in the second half as they piled on four tries within 13min to take a commanding 36-10 lead after 64min.
A lull in proceedings followed as South Sydney was able to score two converted tries to reduce the margin to 22-36 with 11min to go, but soon after player of the year Nafe Seluini sealed victory for his side with a well-taken try.
With Shaun Johnson nailing his seventh conversion in as many attempts, the Junior Warriors were 42-22 ahead and knew they had claimed the club's first title.
Taylor relished being back in the second row, grabbing two tries as he chased down grubber kicks while Johnson took his NYC career points tally beyond 400 points with his 14-point haul.
Glen Fisiiahi's try was his 20th of the year and Siuatonga Likiliki's was his 19th in what was his 50th and last game in the competition.
Second rower Sam Lousi benefited from a stunning off load by Johnson to score his first try of the year.
After finishing second in the regular season, the Junior Warriors finished the year with an overall record of 19 wins, a draw and just seven losses and stood out as the competition's best defensive team.
NZ WARRIORS 42 (E Taylor 2 G Fisiiahi S Likiliki E Niko N Seluini S Lousi tries S Johnson 7 goals)
SOUTH SYDNEY 28 (J Roberts J Vaivai N Peats B Judd J Tulemau tries A Reynolds 4 goals)