A try to winger Mason Ceretto with just 35 seconds remaining saw the Guildford Owls win a nail-biting Ron Massey Cup Match Of The Day 24-20 over the Hills District Bulls at Crestwood Reserve last Sunday.
The last-minute win saw the Owls become the first winner of the annual Nathan Gremmo Memorial Shield, in easily the best Massey Cup contest played so far this season.
Returning star Bulls half James Boustani wasted no time in making his mark when his superb cut-out pass sent second-rower Tom Young over to score in just the third minute to give the Bulls a 4-nil lead.
Four minutes later another long Boustani ball found winger Liam Walker, who in turn managed a freakish inside flick pass to fullback Gerard McCallum who streaked away 50 metres to score. Boustani converted for a 10-nil Bulls lead.
Skipper Tim Robinson then crashed over from close range to score beside the posts for the home side in the 11th minute. With Boustani’s simple conversion, it looked to be a matter of how far as the Bulls raced ahead of the clock with a 16-nil lead.
Guildford then managed to get their hands on the football and steadily worked their way into the game in the back end of the first half.
Powerhouse former Parramatta Eels prop Shane Shackleton got the Owls on the board in the 23rd minute with his first try for the season for 16-6 with Lopeti Wolfgramm’s conversion.
Then, on the back of good build up late in the half, former Parramatta and Bradford Bulls second-rower Matthew Ryan scored with three minutes left in the half. Wolfgramm’s conversion brought the scores back to 16-12 at the break.
When Ceretto made the most of a Bulls turnover at the start of the second stanza to score his first try from a Guildford counter attacking move, Wolfgramm’s conversion incredibly put the Owls up 18-16.
The match then became a classic arm wrestle for the next 25 minutes as both sides fought for control in the highly-charged atmosphere.
Frustrations came to the surface when Owls interchange player Julian King was sin-binned by referee Jeff Hartup for a shoulder charge in the 65th minute.
The Bulls took full advantage of the extra man straight away when Walker finished off a backline move in the corner to the roars of the home crowd. Boustani’s conversion from touch missed and the Bulls led 20-18.
The home side appeared to be hanging on when they were the beneficiaries of some questionable calls in the last five minutes, but a late turnover gave Guildford one last chance as the clock wound down.
In the last 60 seconds a desperate Wolfgramm pass found Ceretto who beat three defenders from close range to score and stun the large home crowd into silence. Wolfgramm converted to put the icing on the Owls’ cake.
Sunday’s other Ron Massey Game was far more one-sided – but also had its share of drama.
Wentworthville Magpies maintained their unbeaten record at the top of the Ron Massey Cup table with an 84-4 rout of an undermanned Kingsgrove Colts at Ringrose Park.
In embarrassing scenes, Kingsgrove started the match with just 13 players and no fresh reserves - the reserves bench being three unused Sydney Roosters Holden Cup squad players making their way to Ringrose Park from Gosford after the Roosters’ NYC match earlier in the day.
The three players did not get to Ringrose Park until half-time – by which stage Wenty had already racked up a 42-nil lead.
Wentworthville scored 15 tries in their romp with five-eighth Jack Madden bagging four majors. Roydon Gillett, Jack Miller and Jesse Malcolm-Dinsdale each got doubles for the rampant Magpies. Dylan Izzard posted a personal tally of 26 points with a try and 12 goals from 15 attempts with the boot.
This weekend sees the rest of the split round with four matches to be played across Saturday and Sunday.