Competition leaders Mounties sent out another emphatic statement to the Sydney Shield competition with a 58-12 thrashing of an understrength Belrose Eagles in the match of the round at Lionel Watts Reserve last Sunday.
With Belrose losing Dave Marando to a workplace injury on the Thursday before the match on top of missing Captain/Coach James Mortimer, the Eagles were vulnerable to a Mulga side hell bent on settling the score of the one loss they have had all year to Belrose in Round Two - and that's exactly how it turned out.
After Mounties winger Maiko Sivo opened the scoring to post his 27th try of the season in the 6th minute and classy young half Brad Speechley doubled the visitors' lead with another converted try in the 13th minute, Belrose stayed with Mounties - for a while anyway.
Ben Pickering crashed over in the 22nd minute to get Belrose back to 12-6 with Andy Layton's conversion and Belrose had chances after that - but that was as good as it got for the makeshift Eagles outfit.
Sam Aiga - with plenty of NSW Cup and Massey Cup experience under his belt showing the Mulga’s depth - finished off a wide movement before centre Maile Li scored right on the half time siren to set Belrose back on their heels at 22-6 at the break.
The second half became a procession as Mounties set out to make their statement.
Their line speed and play the ball speed - almost at NRL levels - was too much for the Eagles to handle and the gaps then just opened up.
Sivo completed his hat trick to take his total to 29 tries for the season in just 17 games, Speechley completed a double, and Li completed a double as the visitors ran riot to lead 58-6 with five minutes to play.
Mounties fullback Jake Horton also posted his 20th try for the season and kicked nine goals from 10 attempts for a personal tally of 22 points to bring his total for the Shield season to an even 300 points - also in just 17 games.
Interchange forward Daniel Martin got a token consolation try for Belrose in the final minute which was converted by Layton to at least get the Eagles to double figures.
It was Mounties' 15th win in a row - one more than Cronulla's streak they have going in the NRL - to still have the hottest and longest winning streak in any Australian sports competition right now.
The Peninsula Seagulls moved into sole second spot on the Sydney Shield ladder with a tight 26-22 win away from home over St Marys at St Marys Leagues Stadium last Sunday.
It was the brilliance of Seagulls fullback Jake Pickering with a hat trick of tries that was the difference between the two sides in a man of the match performance.
The Seagulls got off to their customary fast start with two tries in the first 12 minutes - and both to typical backline speed.
Winger Richie Goodwin opened the scoring in the eighth minute before Pickering got his first in the 12th minute to extend the Seagulls lead to 10-nil with Luke Martin's conversion.
The Saints struck back with a Brad Kuiti try converted by Jake Butfield in the 17th minute for 10-6, before Seagulls winger Matt Kelly scored in the corner in his second game against his old club for 14-6.
The Saints then came back again with a try to Butfield for 14-10, before a brilliant piece of work by Pickering for his second try on the stroke of half time gave the Seagulls some breathing space at 20-10 at the break after Martin landed his second conversion.
St Marys came out hard with two converted tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half to hit the front for the first time in the match.
Brilliant Fijian centre Gordon Toomalatai scored in the first set of the second half, before a break by brother Urima sent backrower Robbie Graham over for St Marys to lead 22-20 with Butfield converted both tries.
Up again stepped Pickering - with his hat trick try mid way through the second half to regain the lead for the Seagulls at 26-22 with Martin's conversion.
Pickering now has 20 tries for the season – equal with Mounties’ counterpart Jake Horton and with only the brilliant Sivo from that all conquering Mounties side ahead of him on the Shield try scorers' list.
There was no further score in the last 20 minutes as the match degenerated in a fumble-a-thon in the last 20.
The Saints had a completion rate of one from seven sets in those last 20 minutes as they dominated field position over a Seagulls side that barely hung on at the finish.
The Seagulls defence did just enough to close out the win and get the precious two points to move them to sole second spot on the Shield ladder.
A runaway 55 metre try to stand in centre Jesse Maxwell-Offen with 90 seconds remaining saw defending Premiers Wentworthville get out of jail with a 36-32 win over a game Cabramatta at New Era Stadium last Saturday Night.
With the Two Blues inspired by the presence in the stands of injured former team mate Kurt Drysdale and the Drysdale family, Cabra took it right up to the undermanned Magpies for the full 80 minutes in honour of their former team mate.
Two Blues centre Rod Mapa opened the scoring in the 14th minute to signal a try for try contest that ebbed and flowed for the duration of a 12 try thriller.
Wenty winger Emosi Alamoti replied for the Magpies in the 17th minute, before evergreen Cabra fullback Luke Lavender finished off a right side raid by dashing 55 metres to score and regain the lead at 10-6 with Brody Hawkins’ conversion.
A turnover from the restart set opened the door for hooker Jenan Parrish to barge over from acting half to get the Magpies back in front with Kamren Cryer’s conversion at 12-10.
Then Cabra prop Tim Jones finished off sustained attack to carry defenders over the line with him to give the Two Blues a 16-12 half time lead with another successful Hawkins conversion.
Wenty started the second half on fire with two quick fire tries in the first 10 minutes of the period to snatch the lead back.
Doug Faaiu scored from the first set of the second half, before concerted Magpies pressure led to Jayson Lombardo crossing wide out to give Wenty a 24-16 lead after Cryer converted.
Cabramatta – clearly playing for Drysdale looking on – then played their best football of the night and even the season to put themselves in a winning position against a tiring Wentworthville unit that only had two fresh reserves and a 15 man rotation for the match thanks to injuries and unavailabilities.
Cabra lock Jordan Bichan scored wide out, before centre Jamie Harrison crossed after crisp backline play three minutes later.
When winger Brent Castle finished off a blind side move in the corner, Cabra had scored three tries in nine minutes to hold a 32-24 lead.
As time ticked down not even a flare up with nine minutes left which saw Faaiu and Jones both get sin binned by referee Darian Furner seemed to be stopping Cabra from completing the upset for their fallen former team mate.
However, Wenty’s 14 man rotation for the last nine minutes had one last attacking thrust in them – and made the closing stages their own in a grandstand finish.
Winger Brock Jamieson scored in the corner with five minutes left to give Wenty hope at 32-30 with Cryer’s conversion.
Then on the third tackle from the restart, a lovely short ball put Wenty centre Matt Collings into a gap. Collins then sent Maxwell-Offen away on his 55 metre dash under the posts to give the Magpies the lead at 36-32 after Cryer’s conversion.
Wenty then held on from the restart to snap a three game losing streak of their own - and break Cabra hearts.
The Guildford Owls moved into the Top Four and sent Western Suburbs crashing out of the Top Eight with a high scoring 46-28 win at Campbelltown Stadium last Saturday morning.
The Magpies – knowing what was at stake – started brightly. Jai Doolan marked a return to fullback when he picked up a spilt bomb to score his 16th try of the season in the second minute to give Wests a six-nil lead with Blake Cavallaro’s conversion.
Guildford half Todd Spienza replied when he dashed 65 metres to score from a scrum in the 12th minute to level the scores after Josh Maree’s conversion.
The Owls then took the lead when centre Michael Morgan finished off hard pressing attack with a try in the 18th minute for 10-6, before Doolan’s second try – and 17th for the year – regained the lead for a committed Wests outfit at 12-10 with just over 10 minutes left in the half when Cavallaro converted.
Magpies centre Phil Brombal then extended the lead when he finished off a sharp left side attack five minutes later and Wests looked the goods up 18-10 after Cavallaro made it three from three with the boot.
Guildford gave a sign of things to come in the shadows of half time when winger Kesomi Mahe picked up a kick rebound off an upright to score and reduce the deficit to 18-16 at the break when Maree converted from in front.
The Owls then started the second half blazing. Centre Josh Camroux scored to send the Owls back in front two minutes into the second half.
Amanaki Manu then extended the Owls’ lead when he scored from a right side burst, before the Owls really hit their straps in the middle period of the second stanza.
Josh Carr finished off another right side movement in the 58th minute to extend the Owls lead beyond two converted tries, then prop Caleb Hunt showed good dexterity to follow a chip kick to score and blow the Guildford lead out to 40-18 with just over 12 minutes left after another Maree conversion.
The Magpies pulled a couple of late tries back in the last 10 minutes as Brombal grabbed his second try from a neat Doolan pass, before interchange forward Heheako Tuima crashed over from close range with under five minute to play to bring the scores back to 40-28.
Guildford had the last word when centre Shane Hunt dashed 85 metres to score in the last minute to put an exclamation mark on the Owls’ win with one last Maree conversion.
The Windsor Wolves took Wests’ place in the Top Eight with a grinding 24-14 win over the Auburn Warriors at Lidcombe Oval last Saturday.
In a tight first half, Wolves prop Zac Jones opened the scoring when he barged over from close range in the 14th minute.
Auburn winger Antonio Soni replied when he finished a backline movement in the 22nd minute to level the scores, before class Wolves half back Aaron Farkas posted a try three minutes later that gave the Wolves a 10-four with Ben Hudd’s conversion.
Powerful Warriors centre Chris Cunningham brought the Warriors back into the contest five minutes into the second half when he finished off an attacking overlap in the corner. Jaime Crocker missed the conversion and the Wolves led 10-8.
Wolves centre Mick Compton then ensured his return to the Wolves backline was a happy one when he extended the visitors’ lead to 16-8 with a neat try midway through the second half for Hudd to again convert.
Cunningham then pounced on a Wolves turnover from the restart set with his second try three minutes later to bring the scores back to 16-14 after Crocker finally landed a conversion.
Both sides had chances over the next 15 minutes, but Windsor made sure of theirs when fellow prop Brett Jones joined Zac on the score sheet with the match winning try with three minutes left.
Hudd converted and then landed a penalty goal as the final siren sounded to send Windsor into the Top Eight for the first time this season.
The Hills District Bulls kept their finals hopes alive with a convincing 44-18 win over the Blacktown Workers at Crestwood Reserve last Sunday.
The Bulls carried on from their brave display against Mounties the previous week in putting together close to their best performance of the season against the disappointing Workers outfit.
The Bulls won the match with a blistering first half in attack after conceding the opening try from the first set of six of the match.
Workers prop Niku Apelu shocked the Bulls faithful when he scored inside 90 seconds for Andrew Cartisano to convert and the Workers to lead six-nil.
Then came the Bulls reply to backrower Jordan Tongahai in the sixth minute for 6-4 to Blacktown.
The Bulls then blitzed the Workers with four more first half tries – though Nick Betar, hooker Sean Walpole, young livewire half Hayden McWilliam and former Asquith Magpies centre Todd Sartor – in the space of 18 minutes.
McWilliam converted all of the Bulls four tries in this period to set up a commanding 28-6 Bulls half time lead.
Workers centre Daniel Smith gave the visitors some hope of a comeback with the first try of the second half to get the visitors back to 28-12 with Cartisano’s conversion.
Bulls second rower Eden Syme then made sure of the win with a superb double midway through the second half. Both of Syme’s tries were converted by McWilliam to have the Bulls home at 40-18, despite Workers winger Cameron Manton scoring a spirited reply for the visitors with under five minutes left.
Bulls winger Ash Johnson made a welcome return to try scoring form when he put the icing on the cake for the Bulls with his 13th try of the season in the final minute to complete the scoring at 44-18.
Finally, East Campbelltown maintained their place in the Top Eight with an easy 56-12 disposal of wooden spoon favourites Asquith at North Sydney Oval last Sunday.
The Eagles got to work early – with prop Aaron Teariki crashing over to open the scoring in just the second minute before 2015 Shield Player of the Year Ben Baker scored his first try just five minutes later to extend the Eagles’ lead to 10-nil.
When Mason Talolua scored in just the 10th minute, another cricket score - similar to what ‘Bear Park’ sees in summer - was on the cards with the Eagles up 14-nil.
However - as has been the case in recent weeks – Asquith fought back hard and were rewarded when half Mark Roberts had dummied his way over in the 17th minute after concerted Magpies pressure to get the visitors back to 14-6 with Aaron Papera’s conversion to stay in the contest.
However, that was as close as Asquith got to the Eagles.
A quickfire double to Sama Sauvao – his second try in the shadows of half time being a real game breaker- gave the Eagles a more comfortable 26-6 lead at the break after Baker converted both tries.
After Baker got his second try to extend the East Campbelltown lead 10 minutes into the second half with a converted try for 32-6, the Magpies had their best period of the match.
Shortly after Magpies skipper Shae Jarvis and Eagles half Wayde Dunley were sin binned by referee Damien Simes for an on field altercation, young interchange back Brendon Starr finished off a neat Magpies movement to score in the 57th minute.
Papera converted and Asquith were back to 36-12 and keeping the Eagles honest.
However, once Dunley returned to the field from the bin, East Campbelltown upped the ante in the last 20 minutes and Asquith could not go with the Eagles.
East Campbelltown ran in four tries in the last 12 minutes – starting when giant forward Tyrone Taylor-Sweeney barged over before fellow prop Guy Thompson and centre Fusi Toutai added to the score sheet.
Baker completed his hat trick in the final minutes despite the right knee injury that has put him out for a lot of this season flaring up again in the second stanza.
His hat trick of tries and 8 goals from 10 attempts gave the custodian a personal tally of 28 points in a welcome return to form.
Mounties’ big win sees them on 32 competition points, maintaining their six point break over the Seagulls (26) at the top of the table, with St Marys (24) now back to third and Guildford up to fourth spot on 20 points.
Belrose are back on 19 with two games in hand ahead of East Campbelltown and Wenty on 18, with Windsor moving into eighth on 14 points ahead of Wests on percentages.
Asquith are still a clear last on just the two competition points.
This weekend will see only three matches played to catch up on wash outs from earlier in the season.
On Saturday, Blacktown Workers will host St Marys at Laybutt Sports Fields in a “battle of the Blue Mountains” at 1pm, while the Peninsula Seagulls will travel to New Era Stadium to take on the Cabramatta Two Blues at 3pm.
Sunday’s only game will see a critical Top Eight ‘battle of the birds’ when the East Campbelltown Eagles play the injury ravaged Belrose Eagles at Waminda Oval at 2:30pm.
Triple H FM continues its live footy coverage this weekend. First on Saturday, it’s the return of the hard hitting talk show “A View From The Hill” from midday to 1pm. Then later on Saturday at 3pm, it’s the last Intrust Super Premiership NSW “Northern Derby” as we know it between the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and the North Sydney Bears from Brookvale Oval. Finally, on Sunday, the HHH League team travel to Waminda Oval, Campbelltown for the Sydney Shield ‘Battle of the Birds’ between the East Campbelltown Eagles and the Belrose Eagles from 2:30pm. All the weekend action can be heard on 100.1FM, on the internet via Web Streaming at www.triplehfm.com.au, or through the Radio TuneIn app.