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HIGHLIGHTS | Sydney Shield Round 22

Tony Dosen, Triple H 100.1FM

In one of the best Sydney Shield matches of the season, defending premiers East Campbelltown kept the top four race wide open with a thrilling 24-22 win over Asquith at Storey Park last Sunday.

East Campbelltown – minus five regular starters including former Shield player of the year Ben Baker – opened the scoring in the third minute when stand in full back Amanono Tovio finished off a right side raid to score.

Asquith responded with their next attack when prop Izaiah McMoore barged over four minutes later to level scores at 6-all with Shae Jarvis’ conversion.

Despite 22 penalties from referee Phil Sung (11 each), the match became a real battle as both sides defended grandly in the face of waves of attack whilst taking a physical toll with Asquith’s Aaron Groom (concussion) and East Campbelltown’s Grant Lahey (torn hamstring) taking no further part in the match from their injuries.

East Campbelltown centre Theo Leato then made a break down the right before setting up winger Craig Moustakas for his first first try 10 minutes from half time to give the Eagles a 12-6 lead at the break.

Asquith came out firing to start the second half with early tries to centre Jeremey Marshall down the left and fullback Jake Pickering down the right to give Asquith a 16-12 lead 10 minutes into the second half.

East Campbelltown then came back again with another Leato break down the right sending Moustakas over for his second try to regain the lead at 18-16 after 15 minutes of the second half,

A Brett Lahey kick saw Moustakas complete his hat trick with 10 minutes left to give him 18 tries for the season – with Sean Connor’s fourth conversion bouncing over of the crossbar to give the Eagles a 24-16 lead. 

An Ari Bou-Sleiman break down the left with six minutes left was brilliantly finished off by Pickering for his second try – and 22nd major for the year – to set up the grandstand finish for the Magpies at 24-22 with Jarvis’ third conversion.

East Campbelltown then held on grimly in the closing stages in the face of frantic late Asquith attack to clinch their win.

The Guildford Owls set themselves up as a player in Top Four calculations with a tough 22-6 win over Western Suburbs in their match at McCredie Park last Sunday.

In an error riddled first half where both sides’ attack was not at their best thanks to the physical defence, Owls hooker Tyron Shelley burrowed over from close range in the 20th minute for a 4-nil Guildford lead that was maintained to the half time break.

Shelley completed his double five minutes into the second half to extend the lead, before Owls galloping away for a solo try down the right eight minutes later for a 16-nil lead.

Wests stayed in the contest when bench prop Bryce Shaw burst over with 20 minutes left, before Guildford lock Austin Dias dashed away off an inside pass with 15 minutes left to seal the two points for the Owls at 22-6 after Todd Sapienza converted.

Belrose – again down on numbers with only three fresh reserves – virtually secured their finals place with a hard fought 28-16 win over the Hills District Bulls in their match at Crestwood Reserve last Sunday.

The Eagles started well enough when veteran half Dave Marando dashed 20 metres to score in the third minute for an early 4-nil lead, before Bulls centre Jake Lennox replied with his try 10 minutes later to level the scores at 4-all.

The match became an arm wrestle before Belrose fullback Christian Bate scored his 16th try of the season 15 minutes from half time to regain the lead for the visitors at 10-4 with Marando’s conversion.

Bulls winber Tui Nawaikalou then finished off a movement wide out five minutes from the break to score, with James Horvat’s conversion locking up the scores at 10-all at half time.

Things were looking ominous for Belrose late in the first stanza when they lost Tom Betts to concussion to reduce their numbers to two reserves and a 15 man rotation – with one of those two being 38 year old former Manly NRL forward Jim Curtis in his second match back from retirement.

They became more ominous when Bulls bench player Jake Lewis scored five minutes into the second half to give the home side a 16-10 lead with Horvat again adding the extras.

Belrose then lifted on the back of field position 15 minutes into the second half when prop Jake Morrison crashed over to level scores at 16-all with Marando’s conversion.

Belrose hooker Maverick Tweedie regained the lead for the Eagles on their next attack four minutes later when he burrowed over from dummy half from close range for a 22-16 lead.

Belrose winger Richie Goodwin then scored the match winner with 10 minutes left when he snaffled an intercept from an overlap down his wing and dashed 60 metres to score.  Marando’s fourth conversion closed the deal on Belrose’s 28-16 win.

The Top Three sides on the Shield table maintained their positions in the weekend round by posting high scoring wins.

First, competition leaders Mounties stayed on top with an easy 54-18 win over Moorebank at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Saturday.

With the luxury of dropping back Dylan Izzard and Brad Speechley to form a classy halves combination, the Mulga started well with Izzard getting the opening try in the fourth minute.

Moorebank second rower Shane Fuataga scored in the 12th minute to give the Rams a 6-4 lead with Kieran Hayman’s conversion – but that was as far as the Rams got as the home side stepped up a gear.

Centre Fou Tagiilima scored his first try in the 20th minute to regain the lead for the home side, before the Mulga cut loose with tries to second rower Ben Chahoud, fullback Corey Makelim and winger Jye Ellul to give Mounties a 28-6 lead at half time.

Moorebank winger Mutu Stanley scored 10 minutes into the second half to give the Rams some hope of a comeback,  That was quickly snuffed out by Speechley scoring his first Sydney Shield try for the year six minutes later.

From there, the Mulga again asserted their superiority with Tagiliima completing his double, evergreen 40 year old winger Shannon Chapman completing a double and second rower Michael Morris bringing up the Mulga’s 50 points with his try with five minutes left.

Moorebank full back Ben Cassell got a consolation try for the Rams in the final minute.

After a tight start, the Wentworthville Magpies kept the pressure up on the leaders with a 54-24 win over an undermanned Cabramatta at New Era Stadium last Saturday.

Fielding only three fresh reserves – and with eight players of the 16 needed to back up in the Ron Massey Cup match that followed – the Two Blues shrugged off their lack of numbers to start the match well.

Cabramatta prop Zac Wedesweiler crashed over in the third minute to give the Two Blues an early lead, with opposite number Solomone Lasalo replying in kind in the 20th minute after a tight opening quarter of the match.

Cabramatta fullback Jay Belgrove got his first try 10 minutes from half time to give the Two Blues a 12-4 lead, before Wenty second rower Nicki Toomata crossed wide out in the shadows of half time to narrow the Cabramatta lead to 12-8 at the break.

The lack of numbers then told on the home side as the Magpies then took control of the match in the second half – with makeshift five eighth Mark Daoud, centre Dave Sisifa and Toomata (in completing his double) all scoring early to give Wenty the lead.

Belgrove completed his brace of tries to keep Cabra in touch on the scoreboard, before Wentworthville winger Hala Katoa replied on the next Wenty attack – unleashing another rush of tries to put the Two Blues right out of the match.

Wenty fullback James Goring and winger Braydon Walsh finished off movements to score in the last 20 minutes, while centre Jack Miller got a late double to go to 15 tries for the Shield season – and bring up the Magpies half century of points in the closing stages. 

Cabramatta winger Nephi Kapinga got a late consolation try to make the final score a little more respectable for the Two Blues.

Finally, the St Marys Saints stayed entrenched in the Top Four with a high scoring 52-30 win over an undermanned Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Laybutt Fields, Blacktown last Sunday.

Saints back rower Ryan Jeffrey opened the scoring in the first minute, before Blacktown fullback Bilal Maarbani scored 10 minutes later in reply for the home side to get scores back to 6-4.

The Saints assumed control with tries to five eighth Alan Eisenhuth and winger Nick Betar for a 14-4 lead. 

Blacktown – desperate for a win to keep their finals hopes alive despite only having two reserves and a 15 man rotation – again came back when centre Peter Scanlan scored his first try 15 minutes from half time.

St Marys again extended their lead when centre Fuimanu Enese scored his first try wide out six minutes later, before Blacktown had their best period of the match either side of the interval.

Scanlon completed his double on the stroke of half time, lock Cameron Laws scored in the opening minutes of the second half, and centre Antonio Soni scored wide out eight minutes into the second stanza to give the home side a shock 24-18 lead.

Both sides went try for try for the next 15 minutes – St Marys centre Jesse Jackson scored to level scores with Cody Smith’s conversion, before Blacktown prop Tala Semu crashed over to regain the lead for the Workers Sea Eagles at 30-24 with Maarbani’s conversion.

The lack of fresh reserves then caught up with a rapidly tiring Blacktown in the last 15 minutes.

Bench player Justin Jones’ first try with 15 minutes started an avalanche of late tries that blew the home side away – with Pacific Islands Universities skipper John Faiumu putting the Saints back in front with 12 minutes left at 36-30 after Smith added the extras.

Jones completed his late double four minutes later, before prop Shannon Harris barged over  to seal the two points with four minutes left.  Enese completed his double in the last minute to bring up St Marys’ half century of points.

Mounties (38 points), St Marys (38), and Wentworthville (36) stay entrenched in their positions with Asquith’s place in fourth spot on 30 points again under threat by both Guildford (28) and East Campbelltown (28) after their loss.

Belrose (22) and Cabramatta (22) have almost qualified for the finals, with Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles (18) the only side that could mathematically still make the playoffs.

Moorebank (14), Hills District Bulls (14) and Wests (12) are officially out of Top Eight contention with three rounds left to play.

This weekend’s full round sees four matches on Saturday and two matches on Sunday.

The pick of the round starts with Blacktown’s last ditch stand to make the finals against Belrose at Lionel Watts on Saturday, followed by both Sunday games – where traditional rivals Guildford and Wentworthville meet at McCredie Park, and East Campbelltown take on Cabramatta at Waminda Oval in the Eagles’ inaugural Polynesian Day home game.

 

For full scores and scorers' details, visit the NSWRL Match Centre

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