Wentworthville Magpies are the 2015 Sydney Shield Premiers after clawing back from a 16-point deficit to defeat the Hills District Bulls 26-22.
Magpies’ captain and lock Simon Greaves was carried off early with an ankle injury in his final career game, but he courageously returned to the field when his side were 16-0 down and inspired the unbelievable comeback.
“I had an ankle injury a couple of weeks ago and it just got twisted up in a tackle, [so I] just got it needled up a couple of times to come back on,” said Greaves.
“I’m over the moon. They got off to a good start, it was a tough game but we dug deep right until the end there and didn’t have any interchanges throughout the last 12 minutes. We hung in with goal line defence, and we got home.”
“We’ve come back from a few deficits this year already. We knew we could do it if we kept to the game plan and roll through the middle of them, stick to what we’ve been practicing all year and we could come around with the win.”
Dean Matterson was outstanding at halfback for the Magpies and earned man of the match honors, while Scott Hogan put in a scintillating performance in a losing side.
Hundreds of extremely passionate Bulls’ supporters will tried hard to inspire their team, but can be proud of the efforts their team provided in the grand final and throughout the season.
A powerful effort from David Baumann opened the scoring for the Hills, after he hit the defensive line five metres out, and carried multiple Magpies’ players on his back as he forced his way over.
David Sisifa invited the Bulls on the attack in the 21st minute when he could not handle a James Boustani kick, and it proved to be extremely costly as Scott Hogan beat three defenders and pushed through two more to score a wonderful solo try in the following set.
Hogan continued his sublime first half in the 34th minute after he supported a Kennedy Pettybourne linebreak to score his second try of the afternoon and increase Hills' lead to 16-0.
Greaves returned to the field, which inspired the Magpies to finally open their account on the stroke of halftime when Keehan Diamond made a linebreak and was brought down just short. Then some nice work out of dummy half by Regan Haika allowed Regan Rona to go over untouched.
No further points were scored in the half, making the halftime score 16-4 to the Bulls.
The Magpies came out firing right from the second half whistle, as they forced a dropout almost immediately and reduced the deficit to 16-10 when Allan Niusela ran onto a Matterson pass to crash over and score.
Boustani misdirected a pass in the 55th minute, and it was intercepted by Diamond to instantly put the Magpies on the attack.
They capitalised on the field position when Matterson threw an outstanding cut-out pass to Aaron Weston did the rest. Sisifa missed the conversion, which meant the Hills were just hanging on with a two-point lead.
The Magpies’ momentum came to a halt in the following set, as a pass found the turf and Edric Holmes picked up the loose ball to run away and score under the posts, to give the Bulls a 22-14 lead with just under 20 minutes remaining.
A string of left-to-right passes opened up the Bulls’ defence while the Magpies were on the attack, and Kala Leha took advantage to cut the score line back to 22-20.
An incredibly poor play-the-ball error while coming out of trouble led to the Bulls relinquishing the lead, as a cross field kick from Diamond was tapped back by Weston and then pounced on by Sisifa.
That made the score 26-22 to the Magpies, which turned out to be the premiership winning try and completed the fairytale finish for Greaves.
Wentworthville Magpies 26 (D Sisifa, R Rona, C McKenzie, K Leha, A Niusela tries; Sisifa 3 goals) bt Hills District Bulls 22 (S Hogan 2, E Holmes, D Baumann tries; J Boustani 3 goals)