The Wentworthville Magpies narrowly defeated the Newcastle Knights 16-12 through a strong defensive effort to record their sixth win of the season.
The Magpies entered the clash intending to climb off the bottom of the ladder and bounce back from their heavy loss to Mounties last week. In a match riddled with penalties and missed opportunities, the Magpies had the weight of possession and field position.
Halfback Beau Henry steered his team around with his usual direction, as well as setting up one of his side’s try and kicking two of the Magpies’ three conversion attempts. Forward Joseph Ualesi had two offloads that resulted in the Magpies’ two first-half tries and Adam Quinlan was defensively strong, diffusing kicks whilst chiming in when needed in attack.
The opening 10 minutes saw mistakes from both sides in attack and it wasn’t until the 17th minute that a wild offload out the back from Wentworthville’s Ualesi fell into the path of Henry, who picked up the bouncing ball on the run before throwing a 20-metre spiral pass out to winger Jake Butler-Fleming, who crossed in the corner to hand his side first points.
Soon after, another offload from Ualesi created an overlap on the Magpies’ left edge as Halauafu Lavaka scored out wide courtesy of some quick hands through the backline. Beau Henry converted the kick from the sideline to take the lead to 10-0.
The first half saw Wentworthville with a mountain of possession in Newcastle’s danger zone but rarely did they convert their opportunities into points due to a lack of ball security.
In the 37th Newcastle was under heavy pressure defending their line when Honeti Ross intercepted a cut-out pass and managed to outrun Adam Quinlan to score his side’s first points. Quinlan pulled up short in his pursuit of Honeti with what looked to be a hamstring strain and exited the field immediately. Newcastle’s Kerrod Holland converted the kick to cut the deficit to 10-6 at half time.
Both sides opened the second half with several errors and lack of control. Completed sets were hard to come by, so when the Knights were awarded a penalty right in front, they opted to take the two points to bring themselves within two points of the Magpies with 13 minutes left to play.
Just when momentum had started to swing in favour of Newcastle, Magpies centre Vai Toutai ran into a gaping hole 20 metres out from the Knights’ line and Henry successfully converted to take their lead to 16-8.
However, the Knights struck back in the 73rd minute when centre Honeti Tuha crossed down the left edge via a slick backline movement creating an overlap.
At 16-12 and with six minutes to go the local fans feared another comeback.
With barely two minutes on the clock, the Magpies failed to find touch, gifting the opposition with one final attacking raid.
Despite a last play that went from one end to the other and back again, the Knights were unable to breach the Magpies defence as the home side held on for an important victory.
Wentworthville Magpies 16 (J Butler-Fleming, H Lavaka, V Toutai tries; B Henry 2 goals) bt Newcastle Knights 12 (H Tuha 2 tries; K Holland 2 goals) at Ringrose Park.