Tough encounter for Lions in Newcastle

Winger Cooper Vuna's early try wasn't enough to spark the Vodafone Auckland Lions to victory in a low-scoring New South Wales Premier League encounter against Newcastle on Saturday evening.

Vuna, restored to the side after playing Bartercard Cup football last weekend, had his side 4-0 ahead early on.

But the home side did the only scoring in the match from that point on.

Former Cronulla and Penrith centre Paul Franze evened the score up at 4-4 with his side's first try.

And later in the first half New Zealander Jesse Royal grabbed a second try - this time converted - for the Knights to lead 10-4 at halftime.

It stayed that way until close to fulltime when Franze had his second try, consigning the Vodafone Auckland Lions to their third successive defeat after previous setbacks against North Sydney and Cronulla.

The Vodafone Auckland Lions weren't helped when would-be tries to comeback man Wairangi Koopu and a potential second to Vuna were both disallowed.

There was plenty of interest in Koopu having his first match since injuring his left shoulder in a tackle against Cronulla early last August.

The 136-game NRL veteran played more than 70 minutes before he went to the bench.

After the match, he declared his troublesome shoulder had passed the test well.

Match details

At EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle:

Newcastle Knights 14 (Paul Franze 2, Jesse Royal tries; Reegan Tanner conversion).

Vodafone Auckland Lions 4 (Cooper Vuna try).

Halftime: 10-4 Knights.