The WaiCoa Bays Stallions were given a rugby league lesson by the best young players in the country, as they were thumped by the Junior Warriors in Hamilton on Saturday.
The two sides met in the curtain-raiser to the Warriors-Panthers NRL trial fixture at Waikato Stadium, and while the hosts had the better start, the Warriors eventually fired up and won 50-12.
The out-of-season Stallions got together before Christmas, however, the fact the Warriors train most days of the week and possess superior size and power, proved the difference.
"We knew what they were going to bring and we thought if we can move up on defence and shut them down and try and stop the offloads . . . in theory that works well, but in reality sometimes we found that difficult," Stallions coach Morgan Kutia said. "And well done to them because that's their style of football."
Kutia was delighted with how new second rowers Mac Carson and Phil Rameka performed, while experienced halfback Hayden Karena also stood out.
Karena produced an early 40/20 kick, before another deft touch - a chip in behind the line - had five-eighth Aaron Jolley pouncing on it to score under the posts in the 13th minute.
The home side maintained their 6-0 lead to quarter time, before the Warriors got into their work and put on six tries in 24 minutes.
Winger Viliami Lolohea dotted down twice in four minutes, with his second being a brilliant 80-metre effort.
Kurt Robinson burrowed over from dummy half, then right on halftime Abraham Papalii made a powerful 60-metre burst to score under the sticks and have the Warriors go to the long break up 22-6.
Early in the third quarter the Warriors extended their lead after a dubious looking pass put fullback Tuimoala Lolohea over, then six minutes later he collected a double after a nice break had him speed away.
The Stallions finally hit back three minutes before three-quarter time when Karena produced a sterling kick under pressure and winger Moses Tuivoavoa latched onto it and managed to ground it over the line.
Warriors five-eighth Eko Malu jinked his way over to open the fourth quarter scoring, before Papalii got over from dummy half for his double, then prop Albert Vete crossed, with Mason Lino's conversion bringing up the half century.
Despite the one-sided contest, Kutia was pleased for his players to be able to test themselves against a quality outfit - something they will get another go at this weekend against the Warriors' feeder team the Auckland Vulcans.
"I'd rather play top players than teams that we're expected to beat. It's a learning curve for us and it'll help us in the long run," Kutia said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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