The Wentworthville Magpies held on for their first victory of the season with a frantic 18-16 victory against the Illawarra Cutters.
Illawarra had a chance to tie the score with three minutes remaining but Peter Mata’utia missed the penalty from almost 40 metres out.
The Magpies led 18-10 before clinging to the narrow two-point victory after the Cutters cut the deficit to set-up an exciting final 13 minutes.
Trailing 10-6 at halftime, halfback Luke Kelly, was instrumental in the Magpies’ comeback victory.
After conceding 44 points in their loss against the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland last week, Wentworthville opened the match with focus in defence and discipline with the football.
The Magpies had several chances to score first and they finally converted their opportunity when Ryan Matterson stepped his way five metres out from the try-line and score for a 6-0 lead after 23 minutes.
Despite their promising start to the match, costly errors and ill discipline by the Magpies allowed their opposition back into the contest in gifting the Cutters several opportunities to score.
Justin Hunt was a stand out for Illawarra with stellar defence and reliability under the high ball. On one instance during the first half, Hunt ran 50 metres after diffusing a high bomb that put the Cutters back on the attack and overturn the momentum. Rewardingly enough, Hunt scored on the following play when he sliced through the defence and levelled the score with eight minutes remaining in the half.
Shortly afterwards, the Cutters would enter the sheds with a 10-6 lead as Mata’utia slid through some tiring Magpies defenders to cross the try line.
Lead by Kelly, the Magpies came out looking to spread the ball and find space on the wings. Kelly constantly threatened to break the line and peppered the Cutters with a wide variety of kicks. However, the Magpies were victim of their own ill discipline with numerous errors and conceding penalties to open the second half.
Luckily for Wenty though, the Cutters were unforgivably unable to convert their many opportunities as the Magpies seemingly scored out-of-nowhere when last year’s leading try scorer and VB NSW Cup Player of the Year – Bureta Faraimo – juggled an inside offload and raced 30 metres to score. Kelly converted for Wentworthville to take a slim 12-10 lead with 25 minutes remaining.
Illawarra were on the attack again before Fabian Goodall scooped up a loose pass and sprinted 90 metres to score for Wenty to extend the lead to 18-10 with twenty minutes left on the clock.
However the Cutters persisted in attack with a clever cut-out pass from second rower, Nathan Green, finding Kiti Glymin to stroll over in the right corner. Mata’utia nailed the difficult conversion for the Cutters to trail 18-16 in a grandstand finish to the match.
The Cutters will look to bounce back against the Newcastle Knights in a “home” game at Ziems Park, Corrimal while the Magpies take on the surging Newtown Jets at Henson Park on Easter Saturday.
Wentworthville Magpies 18 (Ryan Matterson, Bureta Faraimo, Fabian Goodall tries; Luke Kelly 3 goals) bt Illawarra Cutters 16 (Justin Hunt, Peter Mata'utia, Kiti Glymin tries; Shannon Crook, Mata'Utia goals)