By Steve Greige at Belmore Sports Ground
Three tries in the final fifteen minutes of the second half has seen Wentworthville come from the clouds to beat a brave Canterbury outfit 22-20 in a thriller at Belmore Sports Ground.
Although both teams came into this Round 14 clash at opposite ends on the VB NSW Cup ladder, the 12th placed Bulldogs produced their best performance of the season last week beating the Warriors 28-0 and early on it looked like they would continue on their giant killing ways against the 2nd placed Magpies.
Canterbury backrower David Minute, one of the form forwards in the competition at the moment, started the game in style, setting up the Bulldogs opening try in the 5th minute.
The skilful second rower put a little grubber in behind the Wenty defensive line 45 metres out on the left edge and his speedy centre Levi Dodd regathered the bouncing ball before offloading to his winger Kayne Brennan backing up and the ex-Dragon dived over in the far corner for a 4-0 lead.
Classy Bulldogs five-eighth Patrick Templeman snuck over from close range in the 15th minute and last season’s leading point scorer in the Holden Cup converted his own try to give the home team a handy 10-0 lead.
A huge upset looked on the cards in the 28th minute when Bulldogs mercurial halfback Lindon McGrady, nephew of former 90’s Canterbury cult hero Ewan McGrady, decided to run the ball and popped a pass to his flying fullback Tyrone Phillips who burst into the clear from 25 metres out to score their third try of the half. Templeman added the extras to extend their lead to 16-0.
The Great Wall of Belmore was finally broken for the first time in 115 minutes of football late in the half when the Magpies went wide through skipper Liam Foran and Wenty fullback Api Pewhairaingi fired a cut-out pass to winger Henry Raiwalui and he crossed in the corner for a crucial try just before the break. Foran, the former Manly and Melbourne playmaker, nailed the sideline conversion to make it 16-6 at halftime.
The Bulldogs got off to a dream start to the second stanza in the 42nd minute when McGrady threw a glorious cutout ball that his Rothman’s Medallist uncle would’ve been proud of, to his winger Brennan, and he did extremely well to tiptoe down the touchline and slide over in the grandstand corner for his second and give Canterbury a 14 point buffer.
However Wentworthville clawed their way back into the match during the next twenty minutes coming close to scoring on a number of a number of occasions only to be denied by some determined Doggies defence.
But with the Magpies offloads and a string of penalties starting to hurt the tiring Bulldogs defence the game changed dramatically with three tries in the space of ten minutes.
In the 65th minute interchange forward Danny Howard started the comeback with a soft try from close range and Foran converted to peg it back to 20-12.
From the kick-off Canterbury prop Makahesi Makatoa produced a huge hit on Tongan International Fui Fui Moi Moi which forced the Parramatta crowd favourite from the field but he was placed on report by referee Zbiginiew Przeklasa-Adamski.
With ten minutes to go it became a two point ball game when former Rooster and Cowboy Ben Jones dived over next to the posts courtesy of a Taniela Lasalo pass. Foran made it three from three and Wentworthville now had all the momentum.
The Bulldogs were under siege and the only thing keeping them in the lead was Templeman’s left foot touch-finders to give his out-of- gas forwards a breather.
Wenty hit the front for the first time in the match in the 75th minute when a set piece from the scrum ten metres out saw left winger Bureta Faraimo cut back inside on an angled run that wrong footed the Doggies defence and the try scoring machine crashed over for his 13th and most important try of the season left of the post. Foran’s conversion hit the post so the score remained 22-20.
Although Canterbury kicked the restart out on the full the Magpies gave them one last chance to win the game in the dying stages when interchange player Chris Binge regathered his chip and chase 30 metres out but he couldn’t find any support and knocked the ball on so the Magpies held on for their second nail-biting victory in as many weeks.
Next week the Bulldogs travel to Newcastle on the Sunday to tackle the Knights while Wenty will enjoy the bye.
Wentworthville Magpies 22 (B Jones, B Faraimo, H Raiwalui, D Howard tries; L Foran 3 goals) def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20 (K Brennan 2, D Minute, T Phillips tries; P Templeman 2 goals) at Belmore Sports Ground.