By Nicholas Janzen at Ringrose Park
Get-out-of-gaol performances come no more miraculous than Wentworthville’s 22-19 come-from-behind triumph on the siren at Ringrose Park against Canterbury last Sunday.
Right up until the final 10 seconds of the match, the Bulldogs looked certainties to claim a memorable victory – or at the very least a draw – having led by 12 points for the majority of the game. But the home side simply weren’t going to be denied.
Played in conditions that saw many other matches cancelled, the sides battled early on to come to grips with the challenging wet and muddy track. It took more than 20 minutes for the first points to be registered, with Bulldogs centre Tautalatasi Tasi soaring above the pack to claim a cross-field kick.
Ten minutes later the Bulldogs extended their lead to 12 when sheer weight of possession saw halfback Lindon McGrady duck inside Wenty’s goal-line defence to score. The visitors took that lead into the break.
But, despite being held scoreless in the first half, the hosts came home with the wettest of sails in the second stanza to cross for 22 points and, as full-time sounded, claim the unlikeliest of wins.
Wenty’s comeback started 10 minutes into the second half when in-form flanker Ben Fritz finished a slick backline movement. Halfback Luke Kelly converted from out wide to narrow the deficit to six.
The Bulldogs reclaimed their 12-point lead after a nice face ball put Makahesi Makatoa over for a four-pointer but converted tries to Magpies Isaac Maliota and Takai Moeakiola tied things up with six minutes remaining.
It looked odds-on to be a memorable victory for the Bulldogs when sharp-shooting left-footer Chris Binge potted a decisive field goal with just four minutes remaining. With a 19-18 lead and, in conditions where scoring points and playing expansive football proved problematic, it should have been enough for Canterbury.
But, with just a minute remaining and Wenty battling to work the ball off their own tryline, the Bulldogs gave away a penalty for a high tackle – and this epic wet-weather duel had one final chapter.
After a couple of attempts to slice through the Bulldogs’ defence came to no avail, the final play of the match arrived. With just five seconds on the clock, Wenty decided against attempting a field goal and securing a draw, spinning the ball wide, past the posts and across to the right-hand side of the field in an all-or-nothing play. Eventually, with the scoreboard attendant about to signal the end of the match, the ball fell into the arms of Wenty fullback Justin Hunt, who burst through a tackle and touched down to seal a thrilling victory as the siren sounded.
The Magpies are at Ringrose Park once again on Sunday when they tackle fellow top four side, the Wests Tigers while the Bulldogs will have the bye.
Wentworthville Magpies 22 (B Fritz, I Maliota, J Hunt, T Moeakiola tries; L Kelly 3 goals) def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 19 (M Makatoa, L McGrady, T Tasi tries; C Binge 3 goals; C Binge field goal) at Ringrose Park.