4 days ago
Playoffs football is still a realistic chance for the Vodafone Auckland Lions after they won their third straight match in the New South Wales Premier League on Saturday.
Facing last year's beaten grand finalists the Newtown Jets, the Aucklanders were never behind as they held on to win a tight encounter 19-16 at Henson Park in Sydney.
The victory followed a 42-22 win against the Western Suburbs Magpies two weeks ago and last Sunday's 54-26 triumph against second-placed Newcastle.
Today's result, the side's eighth win in its debut season, lifted it to 20 points, just three points outside the top eight.
The Vodafone Auckland Lions opened the scoring with tries to centre Aidan Kirk and second rower Sonny Fai - Fai scoring his 13th try of the season - but NRL veteran Tony Martin failed to convert them.
The Jets came back into the contest with a try to trail 6-8 at halftime.
That became a 14-6 lead for the Lions with a Lui Toimoana try only for Newtown to close to 12-14.
But an unconverted try to Patrick Ah Van and a Steve Buckingham field goal 10 minutes from time proved crucial, taking the Vodafone Auckland Lions out to a 19-12 lead.
A Newtown try on fulltime wasn't enough to prevent the visitors taking the two competition points as they eye their final three matches against the Bulldogs, Canberra and Penrith while they also have two points to come from a bye in the second to last weekend of the regular season.
At Henson Park, Sydney:
Vodafone Auckland Lions 19 (Aidan Kirk, Sonny Fai, Lui Toimoana, Patrick Ah Van tries; Tony Martin conversion; Steve Buckingham field goal).
Newtown Jets 16 (Troy Savage, Rory Kostjaysn, Mickey Paea tries; Shaun Foley 2 conversions).
Halftime: 8-6 Vodafone Auckland Lions.