SS Wrap: Round 20
UTAI INSPIRED WARRIORS UPSET WENTY
An inspired four try performance from 35 year old former NRL star Matt Utai saw the Auburn Warriors upset defending Sydney Shield Premiers Wentworthville Magpies 48-24 in their catch up postponed game at Lidcombe Oval on Wednesday Evening.
Turning back the clock in a display of the power and pace that earned him 167 NRL First Grade Games between Canterbury and the Wests Tigers, a 2004 NRL Premiership with the Bulldogs and a combined 7 Tests for New Zealand and Samoa, Utai turned on a show that put the Magpies back on their heels.
After Wenty opened the scoring when hooker Jenan Parrish burrowed over from dummy half in the ninth minute for a 6-nil lead with Kamren Cryer’s conversion, Utai then stepped up for the Warriors playing at centre.
Utai got his first try in the 18th minute to level scores with Eric Ruka’s conversion. Warriors fullback Jack Gibbons then sent Auburn to a lead they were to hold for the rest of the match when he scored in the 24th minute for a 12-6 lead with Ruka’s conversion.
Utai than powered over from close range wide out for his second try four minutes later to extend the Warriors lead to 16-6.
Inspired by their injection of star-power, the Warriors then sent Wenty rocking with a superb back-line try finished by winger Antonio Soni in the shadows of half time. Ruka converted and Auburn had a shock 22-6 lead at the interval.
After a tight start to the second half, the Warriors then really put Wenty to the sword. Second Rower Peni Minisale crashed over seven minutes into the second half for a 26-6 lead.
Opposite winger Antonio Hala then joined in the party with his first try 13 minutes into the second half for 32-6 when Ruka converted.
Utai then completed his hat trick from the next set from the restart from another sweeping backline play, and the match was virtually over after Ruka’s conversion at an incredible 38-6.
Wenty finally came to life mid-way through the second half when the Warriors took the foot off the throttle – scoring three tries in just eight minutes to give themselves a sniff of a miracle.
Powerhouse interchange forward Doug Faaiu crashed over in the 61st minute, before Greek international Michael Lekkas finished off a movement from close range five minutes later, and winger Emosi Alamoti scored from the restart set.
Cryer converted all three tries to give Wenty a hope of a miracle with 14 minutes left at 38-24.
The Warriors then steadied with possession late in the match. Hala got his second try to close the door on Wenty with seven minutes left.
Then Utai – who plays predominantly for the Warriors’ A Grade team that lead the Sydney Combined Competition these days – got his fourth try in the last minute to put the icing on the Warriors’ cake.
St Marys kept their position in the Top Four with a 46-22 win over St Marys at Laybutt Fields last Saturday in the first of the catch up postponed games across the weekend.
In a high scoring affair, St Marys centre Chris Vaegaau completed a hat trick of tries either side of half time to keep the Saints always at arms length in front of a Workers outfit that came up with some spectacular tries of their own.
After the Workers started well with tries to Caibryn Keating and flying winger Fylyx Saqa Saqa, the Saints struck back with tries to stalwart prop Jared Canon and winger Peter Pakoti.
Further tries to Jak Cannell and second rower Ryan Jeffery then gave the Saints breathing space in front, before the first of Vaegaau’s tries just before the break gave the Saints a comfortable half time lead.
Vaegaau completed his hat trick in the second half to make sure of the Saints’ victory, with winger Justice Utatao and hard working interchange forward Melbourne Taupau also getting tries for St Marys in the second half.
Half Jake Butfield landed five goals from nine attempts with the boot for the Saints.
Wide running second rower David Filimona and interchange player John Leapai got consolation tries for the Workers late, with fullback Omar Zahabe kicking three conversions from four attempts for the Workers.
The Peninsula Seagulls posted their 6th straight win and consolidated second spot on the Sydney Shield ladder with a solid 36-20 win over a game Cabramatta Two Blues in the catch up game at New Era Stadium, Cabramatta last Saturday.
Against a bigger forward pack and a reshuffled Two Blues outfit that included no less than 9 players that had been dropped back from Ron Massey Cup with Cabra's Ron Massey Cup team not playing on the weekend, the Seagulls again relied on the brilliance of their back-line and class fullback Jake Pickering to get the two competition points.
After Seagulls prop Ryan Wheeler went down in the first 20 minutes with a suspected broken arm that could end his season, it was up to their form back rower Todd Wilson to carry the load.
Wilson opened the scoring with his first try in the 12th minute for 6-nil with Luke Martin's conversion, before winger Jeremy Marshall finished off a right side movement to score in the corner for 10-nil after 20 minutes.
Wilson then bagged his double 10 minutes from half time and converted the try himself for 16-nil, before winger Richie Goodwin completed a long range attack from the restart set to extend the lead to 20-nil.
At this point, it appeared that the Seagulls were on their way to another big win.
The Two Blues - who pushed defending Premiers Wentworthville the previous week - then came back with their first try to one of the nine players coming back from Massey Cup - Treyvon Leuluai - to stay in the contest at 20-6 at half time with the conversion.
Pickering then stepped up after being kept quiet in the first half - scoring his 21st try of the season five minutes into the second half to extend the Seagulls lead to 26-6 with Martin's conversion.
When 18 year old five eighth Jack Johns finished another cutting backline movement 10 minutes into the second half, Martin's conversion blew the lead out to 32-6 and it looked as if the Seagulls were going to rack up a big score.
The Two Blues, however, never gave in and were rewarded when centre Isaac Montgomery finished off a neat movement to score in the 56th minute, before Leuluai completed his double with 13 minutes left to keep Cabra interested at 32-16 with the conversion from regular Massey Cup half Ernest Alo.
Pickering put the seal on the win with his second try with five minutes left to extend the Seagulls lead to 36-16.
Pickering now has 22 tries for the season in Sydney Shield - only brilliant Mounties winger Maiko Sivo with 29 majors has now scored more tries in Sydney Shield this year.
Montgomery got the last word in for Cabramatta with his second try in the last minute to make the final score a little more respectable for the Two Blues at 36-20.
East Campbelltown stormed into the Top 4 at Belrose's expense with a handsome 34-22 win in the all Eagles catch up match at Waminda Oval last Sunday.
Making the most of an extremely heavy and muddy surface surrounding a hard cricket wicket in the centre, East Campbelltown held on to the ball far better in the conditions.
This allowed the class of East Campbelltown and ex Wests Tigers NYC half Wayde Dunley using his superb kicking game to not only set up three of the home side's seven tries, but to pin Belrose inside their half for long periods.
After Mason Talolua opened the scoring for the home side with his first try in the third minute, Belrose struck back hard with the only period of the first half where they applied any pressure.
Backrower Beau Abrahams ran off a Blake Nichols face ball to score in the eighth minute for Belrose to lead six-four with Nichols' conversion, then winger Sunia Bukaldi extended the lead to 10-4 with a neat try off a Dave Marando grubber kick in goal three minutes later. It was to be the only time Belrose led all day.
Belrose then turned in their most butter fingered performance of the year as they only completed one of their six sets – inviting East Campbelltown to take up field position at will.
This opened the door for Dunley to send winger Craig Moustakas over for his 14th try of the season off a superb cross kick in the corner for 10-8.
Finally the home side hit the front when 2015 Sydney Shield Player of the Year Ben Baker ran off a Dunley pass to score near the posts for 14-10 after Ed Connor converted.
Baker then got his second try from another in goal grubber from Dunley to give the home side an 18-10 half time lead.
Winger Jovani Vatuvei then leapt above the pack to score off a Dunley high cross field bomb four minutes into the second half to extend the lead for 22-10, before East Campbelltown extended the lead to 28-10 when Talolua got his second try 14 minutes into the second half.
Belrose then came back midway through the second half when they finally got some field position and held on to some football.
Tireless Manly NYC prop forward Jake Morrison strolled over from a Nichols inside pass with 20 minutes left, before centre Marvin Slavin burst over wide out on the right with 10 minutes left to bring Belrose back to 28-22 after Nichols converted both tries.
One more dropped ball from the restart set after Slavin's try then allowed field position for Dunley to put up another testing bomb with 5 minutes left for a tap back to centre Fusi Toutai to slide 5 metres through the mud to score and put the game out of Belrose's reach.
Baker landed a penalty goal after the full time siren to put the exclamation mark on the East Campbelltown win.
Mounties still lead the Sydney Shield despite not playing at the weekend with 32 points ahead of the Seagulls on 28 and St Marys on 26 points. East Campbelltown’s win last Sunday sees them on 20 points and up to fourth ahead of Guildford on percentages with 20 points, and Belrose back on 19 points
Wentworthville are back on 18 points in seventh spot having now lost four of their last 5 games with Wednesday Night’s defeat. Windsor round out the Top Eight on 14 points, just ahead of Wests (also 14 points) on percentages
Asquith are still last on two competition points for their one win for the year.
This weekend see a return to a full round of matches with five matches on Saturday and two games on Sunday.
Auburn Warriors – possibly again with Utai – open the round at 12:30pm on Saturday at the Belmore Sports Ground in an attractive match up with East Campbelltown.
Other feature matches over the weekend are also on Saturday with Mounties aiming for their 16th straight win when they play Windsor at Aubrey Keech Reserve at 3pm, while the Peninsula Seagulls take on the out of form Wentworthville at Lake Park in the twilight 4:30pm timeslot.
Triple H FM continues with their coverage of grass roots footy this weekend.
Saturday sees all league issues tackled with talk program “A View From The Hill” at Midday.
Then on Sunday, HHH-FM cover the big double header from Storey Park between the Asquith Magpies and the St Marys Saints – with the Sydney Shield clash at 1pm followed by Ron Massey Cup ‘Match of the Round’ from 3pm.
All the weekend coverage can be heard on 100.1 FM, on the web via streaming at www.triplehfm.com.au, and on the Radio Tunein App.