By Jason Hosken at Aubrey Keech Reserve
Two slashing length of the field second half tries by Mounties’ Wayne Dargan stole the show but not Wentworthville’s grip on second place as the Magpies repelled a fast finishing Mounties 20-16 at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Saturday afternoon.
Dargan’s late call up in the absence of regular winger Bill Tupou almost proved the difference with the long striding speed machine twice inspiring Mounties to within striking distance after the visitor’s dominated across the park accumulating a 14-0 halftime lead.
Mounties chased their tail from the get-go, completing a horrid seven of sixteen opening half sets, gifting Wentworthville’s big men the central corridor whilst the experienced Liam Foran proved a smart cover for the promoted Luke Kelly.
The Magpies cashed in on a Mounties turnover seven minutes in, centre Vai Toutai cruised through a scattered Mounties’ right edge opening a 6-0 lead after Foran’s left boot raised the flags.
Wenty doubled the advantage four minutes later when winger Henry Raiwalui powered through centre field, off-loading in traffic to a rampaging Ben Smith who delivered a one-handed overhead pass to five-eighth Ryan Matterson to complete the classy fifty metre raid under the posts.
Mounties frustrated their supporters with an assortment of turnovers, poor last play options and an escalating penalty count before Foran - the former Salford Red Devil, applied the blow torch, adding a penalty goal then drilling a 40-20. But Wenty couldn’t add to the 14-0 buffer - replacement forward Isaac Maliota fumbling the Steeden over the line just before the interval.
Foran ensured the home side remained anchored to their goal-line; forcing consecutive goal-line restarts four minutes after the resumption. Raiwalui appeared well placed to convert the good work until Dargan plucked Matterson’s final pass and quickly appeared under the sticks at the opposite end of the park lifting Mounties’ hopes at 14-6.
Mounties grew another leg, easily marching up field from the kick-off and may have added another if Kurt Horton didn’t grass a last play kick in the right corner.
Wenty held off their re-energised opponents and regained momentum after a knee injury forced Mounties’ centre Mosese Pangai from the field with twenty remaining. Tear-away prop, Taniela Lasalo, crashed over under the posts one minute later sending Wenty well clear at 20-6.
The Magpies appeared un-troubled, doing everything expected to close out the match, until Dargan casually regathered a clearing kick near Mounties posts, then wrestled free from several chasers before igniting the afterburners to blow away the stunned cover on half-way, landing next to the up-rights and a spot amongst the contenders for try of the season.
With eight minutes remaining, the Mounties were charging and looked good odds to complete a miraculous comeback. Substitute hooker Reece Goldsmith burrowed over in the left corner placing his team within four points before Wenty defended from their own line in the last minute to hold on 20-16.
Mounties will be at home once again this round when they host Wyong while Wenty head over to Belmore to tackle the Bulldogs.
Wentworthville Magpies 20 (V Toutai, R Matterson, T Lasalo tries; L Foran 4 goals) def. Mounties 16 (W Dargan 2, R Goldsmith tries; K Horton 2 goals) at Aubrey Keech Reserve.