Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Toyota treble dreams dashed

The three-peat is off.

The Junior Warriors, back-to-back Toyota Cup champions, saw their dreams of an unprecedented hat-trick dashed last night as they were dumped out in the semifinals by an enthusiastic Roosters side.

It will be the first time since 2009 that the Warriors are not represented on grand final day, capping a less than memorable year for the Auckland club.

Despite several chances, the defending champions were held scoreless in the second half, handing the Sydney side a deserved victory.

It wasn't a great performance from the Warriors. Their fifth tackle options were consistently poor, they switched off on defence at vital times and conceded numerous penalties.

Of course they weren't helped by a quirk of the NRL rules which saw them play all their finals matches away from home, despite finishing second in the minor premiership. This saw them cross the Tasman three times last week and the Auckland side looked flat from the kick-off.

On the back of a penalty and some unconvincing defence, the Roosters opened the scoring through Ryley Jacks in the fourth minute.

Nine minutes later, they added a second through Chris Taripo, moments after Omar Slaimankhel came up with a try-saving tackle.

In the second quarter, the Warriors began to spark to life, helped by the injection of Toka Likiliki.

They found their running game and were eventually rewarded with a 26th minute try to Ngataua Hukatai. They dominated field position from then on but still struggled with their last play options. They were held up three times in the first spell before levelling the scores in the 38th minute, after left winger David Fusitua did well to elude his marker and dived over in the corner.

Both teams had chances in the third quarter before Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, more known for his sidestepping skills, broke the deadlock by diving over from dummy half. Two late tries (71st and 79th minutes) sealed the Warriors' fate.

- Herald on Sunday

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