The Auburn Warriors secured their place in the Ron Massey Cup Finals with a controversial 14-12 win over the Concord-Burwood Wolves in the catch up postponed game played at Lidcombe Oval on Wednesday Night.
Played in atrocious conditions of driving rain and cold gale force south westerly winds, both sides worked hard to settle.
Warriors winger Abraham El Zakhem opened the scoring when he toed a loose pass along the ground before picking up the ball up and dashing 45 metres to score in the 20th minute. Addison Demetriou marked his return from a jaw injury by nailing the touchline conversion.
Five minutes from half time, Warriors second rower Danny Barakat finished off a right side movement down the blind to crash over and extend the lead to 10-nil.
The Warriors then lost hooker Jamie Clark on the stroke of half time when he was sin binned by referee Kieren Irons for a professional foul. March Russell hit the upright swith the penalty attempt to leave the score at 10-nil at the break.
Auburn did well to hold out with 12 men for the start of the second half as the Wolves worked their way back into the game, but cracked after Clark retuned as Wolves centre Matt Fukofuka finally converted his side’s second half domination into a try down the left. Russell converted to bring the scores back to 10-6.
Three minutes later, giant back rower Kem Seru charged over next to the posts at the end of more sustained attack for Russell to convert and the Wolves to lead for the first time at 12-10.
Just as Concord-Burwood looked to be holding on with five minutes left, makeshift winger Scott Williams fielded a cross kick in defence before being bundled into touch by Auburn chasers who appeared to be offside in front of the kicker.
From the ensuing scrum Warriors winer El Zakhem finished off an overlap on the right to score the winning try.
Auburn held on in the closing stages thanks to one last Wolves dropped ball to secure their second win in four days – and a finals berth.
Concord-Burwood’s Top Four hopes were also lost in the wake of their defeat.
Auburn set up their finals berth with a tremendous second half to blow the Cabramatta Two Blues away 48-22 at New Era Stadium last Saturday whilst ending Cabramatta’s finals hopes.
After the Warriors got the opening try when winger El Zakhem got the opening try in the corner in the third minute for a 6-nil lead with Jade Anderson’s conversion, the Two Blues played strongly for the rest of the first half - as they have done in first halves for most of the season.
Cabra half Jake Jackson got the Two Blues’ reply in the seventh minute to level scores with his own conversion, before prop Taku Simon crashed over in the 26th minute to give the home side a 12-6 half time lead with Jackson’s conversion.
The Warriors then came out and buried Cabramatta’s season under an avalanche of tries in the second half.
Centre Will Solway got a double in the first 10 minutes of the second stanza to send Auburn into the lead at 18-12 with Anderson converting both tries.
The Warriors then went on with the job with El Zakhm completing a double, hooker Clark bagging two tries and Anderson spring a try to go with his six goals for a personal tally of 16 points. Interchange forward Jason Tuuala got a late try to make sure of the big Warriors win.
Kisi Taulani and Mikaera got late consolation tries for Cabramatta to make the final score close to respectable.
Concord-Burwood put themselves in position for a possible Top Four finish with a decisive 38-26 win over the Asquith Magpies at Storey Park last Sunday.
The Wolves virtually won the match jumped out to an early 20-nil lead after just 27 minutes.
Williams – playing in his regular half back position – opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a 35 metre solo try, before winger Sam Latu finished off a 60 metre kick return by scoring in the corner at the end of the return set of six.
Five eighth Russell then strolled through the Magpies defence to score under the posts before rampaging prop Inoke Vunipola galloped over wide out to score to complete the match winning start.
Asquith gave the good sized crowd that turned out for Magpies’ ‘old boys’ day’ some hope when centre Adam Kalcina scored from a clever Nathan Rumsby kick three minutes from half time to bring the scores back to 20-6 with his own conversion.
The Magpies then came to life when bustling centre Jeco Makatoa snapped up an intercept and dashed 85 metres to score two mintues into the second half for Jack Hawkins to convert, before winger Alex Nicholls-O’Neill brilliantly scored his first try eight minutes later to bring scores back to 20-16.
Concord-Burwood then steadied with two more converted tries to winger Cameron Eyles mid way through the second half to give the Wolves a match winning lead at 32-16.
Magpies half Rumsby replied to give the home side hope at 32-22 with Jack Hawkins’ conversion, befrore Wolves prop Diamond Charlie crashed over from close range to put the game to bed for the visitors. Nicholls-O’Neill’s 24th try for the year in the final minute made the final score respectable.
Competition leaders and defeneding Premiers Mounties took a giant step towards securing the Minor Premiership with a grinding 30-8 win over Guildford Owls at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Saturday.
In an extremely tight first half, ex Cronulla and Wests Tigers half Penani Manumalealii got Guidlford off to a great start with the opening try in the 14th minute. It was the only time the Owls led all day.
NRL Rookie finalist Jordan Martin signalled his return to the Massey Cup with his first try in the shadows of the first half to give the home side a 6-4 half time lead with Jake Walsh’s conversion.
Martin then completed his double – and his 18th try of the season – in the opening set of the second half to set the Owls back on their heels at 12-4 with Walsh’s conversion.
In a torrid battle up front, the Mulga slowly gained the upper hand when centre Paul Simona got his first try midway through the second half for an 18-4 lead with another Walsh conversion.
The Owls finally converted an opportunity in attack when winger Leslie Ngaluafe finished off a backline overlap in the corner to keep the visitors in the hunt at 18-8.
Mounties again steadied with Simona’s second try with 10 minutes left to extend the Mulga lead to 24-8 with Walsh again adding the extras.
Fullback John Kennedy then sealed the win with the last try with five minutes left for Walsh to complete a perfect five from five with the boot at 30-8 – leaving the Owls now needing to beat the Warriors this Saturday in a virtual ‘sudden death’ game to keep their season alive.
Western Suburbs virtually wrapped up a Top Two finish – and a kept a possible Minor Premiership in play – with a thrilling 28-22 win over Wentworthville in an all Magpies ‘Battle of the Birds’ at Ringrose Park last Sunday.
In a high quality ‘dress rehearsal’ for possible meetings in September, Wentworthville started on fire when Andrew Pearn crashed over under the posts in their first set of the match to lead 6-nil after two minutes with Lindon McGrady’s conversion.
Wests levelled scores six minutes later when a Jay Bonnell bomb was allowed to bounce at the back by Wenty. Wests lock Inno Inosesio gleefully picked up the loose ball to score. Shannon Gallant converted for 6-all.
The arm wrestle then developed for the rest of the half as both sides tore in up the middle waiting for an opposition mistake.
Wests got the mistake via a penalty for a lifting tackle seven minutes from half time. From the tap kick after the penalty five eighth Jay Bonnell sliced through the Wenty defence to score under the posts. Gallant converted to give Wests a 12-six lead at the break.
Wentworthville again started play in the second stanza on fire as they did the first. Centre Jack Miller picked up a ricochet from a kick to send five eighth Jack Madden away to score in the 48th minute. McGrady converted to level the scores.
Wenty then hit the front four minutes later when Wests fullback Gallant and Wenty skipper Mitch Stanfield both over ran a high bomb – allowing Wenty half Kamren Cryer to pick up the loose ball to score. McGrady converted for an 18-12 lead to the home side.
Wests then struck back decisively. First, Tala Mapesone finished off a backline movement in the corner midway through the second half for Gallant to convert and again lock the game up at 18-all.
Bonell then brilliantly chip kicked on the restart for backrower Josh Davis to regather and sending Bonnell away under the posts for his second try to give Wests the lead at 24-18 with Gallant’s conversion.
Bonnell then completed a man of the match performance with a superb solo try for his hat trick with six minutes left to give Wests a 10 point cushion.
Wenty second rower Matt Douglas then scored in the set following the home side’s regather from the short restart to get the home side back to with a converted try, Wests held on in the closing stages to secure their win.
St Marys set up their Top Four finish with a hard fought 24-6 win over the Hills District Bulls at St Marys Leagues Stadium last Saturday Night.
With class half Adrian Davis again outstanding, the Saints ground their way to a 16-nil half time lead.
Davis scored the opening try himself in the 12th minute to get St Marys away at 6-nil with his conversion.
The match then became a real arm wrestle in the rest of the first half before the class of Davis made the difference in setting up tries for centres Geoff Daniela and Robbie Graham in the last five minutes of the first half to give the home side a commanding 16-nil lead at the break.
A Davis penalty goal early in the second half extended the lead to 18-nil, before the Bulls finally broke through the Saints defence when centre Ben Vengoa burst through wide out to score. Gerard McCallum converted to bring the Bulls back to 18-6.
The rest of the second half again became an arm wrestle with both sides having their chances.
The Saints took the decisive chance with 10 minutes left when fullback Alan Eisenhuth finished off a backline movement to score the match winner. Davis converted and St Marys completed their 24-6 win – which sent the Bulls into a sudden death encounter with Asquith in the last round to make the finals.
Finally, Windsor Wolves easily accounted for the Kinsgrrove Colts 44-10 at Kogarah Oval last Saturday in the battle of the ‘cellar dwellers’ that had no bearing on the finals race.
With a majority of Colts players having an eye on their Sydney Combined A Grade Grand Final the following week, the Wolves were untroubled for the most part.
Wingers Riki Willie and Danyon Barnes got doubles as did lock Kye Hopwood for the Wolves.
Half Tori Willie, fullback Jayden Wharerau and second rower Jeremy Fields also got tries for the Wolves in their easy nine tries to two win.
Five Eighth Daniel Arahu and centre Ofa Lelila got the Colts’ two majors.
Mounties (34 points), Wests (34), Wentworthville (30), St Marys (28), Concord-Burwood (26) and Auburn Warriors (25) have secured their finals places going into the final round.
Asquith (22), Guildford (21), Hills District Bulls (20) and Blacktown Workers thanks to their bye (20) are locked in battle for the last two spots in the Top Eight going into the last home and away weekend.
The last round will see four games played on Saturday and two games on Sunday.
The three key games to decide the last two spots should all be top notch matches – Mounties v Blacktown Workers at Aubrey Keech and Auburn Warriors at Lidcombe on Saturday are critical.
But none more critical than the last game of the home and away season when Hills Distrcit Bulls and Asquith square off on Sunday at Crestwood Reserve for a virtual eighth place play off.
Radio HHH FM again comes to the fore with their coverage of grass roots league this weekend. On Friday Night, the weekend starts with the seventh Sydney Shield “Peninsula Derby” between the Belrose Eagles and the Peninsula Seagulls from Lionel Watts Reserve, Belrose at 7pm. The hard hitting League show “A View From The Hill” then continues the weekend on Saturday at Midday. Then on Sunday, the HHH League Team is go to Crestwood Reserve, Baulkham Hills for the Sydney Shield match between the Hills District Bulls and the Asquith Mapgies at 1pm, before the Ronk Massey Cup sudden death `eighth place playoff’ Match of the Round the Hills District Bulls and the Asquith Magpies at 3pm. All the weekend action can be caught on either 100.1FM, or via Web Streaming at www.triplehfm.com.au, or via the Radio TuneIn App.