The Peninsula Seagulls did enough in a sometimes scrappy performance to post their 10th straight win in the Sydney Shield when they beat Windsor Wovles 40-18 at Lake Park last Saturday.
It appeared to be 'business as usual' when winger Jeremy Marshall opened the scoring in the third minute for the Seagulls with a try in the corner for 4-nil.
But the pesky Wolves - fighting for their finals lives - came back hard and took the lead in the 12th minute when centre Jesse Abbott crossed for his first try. Half Ben Hudd converted and Windsor led 6-4.
The next 20 minutes became scrappy on a poor Lake Park surface.
The Seagulls then held on to the ball for long enough for returning backrower Nick Grant to finish a neat right side move and score 10 minutes from half time and the home side to regain the lead at 10-6 with Luke Martin's conversion.
Talismanic fullback Jake Pickering then used his sheer speed to score his first brilliant try on the stroke of half time to have the Seagulls a little more comfortable leading 16-6 at the break after Martin converted.
The Wolves, however came out smoking to start the second half to again take it right up to the Seagulls.
Abbott got his second try six minutes into the second half for Hudd to convert and bring Windsor back to within 4 points.
Then on their next set from the restart, powerhouse redhead winger Shaun Fitzgerald scored a superb backline try to regain the lead with Hudd's conversion at 18-16.
Just as visions of the upset loss to the Wolves at Windsor earlier in the year came flashing back for the Seagulls, the home side then stepped up a gear.
Centre Barry McGrady finished off a Pickering inspired move to score midway through the half to regain the lead at 22-18 with Martin's conversion, before Pickering got his second try - and a remarkable 30th try for the season - five minutes later to extend the lead to 28-18 when Martin added the extras.
Underrated winger Richie Goodwin then sealed the two competition points against a tiring defence with his try for 34-18 after Martin added the extras with just over 10 minutes left.
WIndsor had more chances to score afterwards but could not convert them, and the relieved Seagulls made extra sure of the win with 5 minutes left when second rower Jerrod See scored the last try of the match with a try that Martin converted to close out the 40-18 result.
The Cabramatta Two Blues revived their hopes of making the Sydney Shield Finals with a storming second half to beat the Auburn Warriors 32-20 at New Era Stadium last Saturday.
After starting well with tries to half Nick Lishoff and a first try to interchange player Siupeli Huihahau to lead 12-nil after 15 minutes with a couple of Jake Webb conversions, the Warriors – needing to win stay alive in the Finals race themselves – struck back hard.
Auburn put on an attacking blitz of three tries in the last 15 minutes of the first half – to centre Eric Rika, interchange player Moses Dawai and fullback Jack Gleeson – to lead 14-12 at the break.
The lack of player numbers – after starting with only two interchanges and playing a 15 man rotation for the match as a result – caused by a Sydney Combined A Grade Final commitment the next day then took its toll on the Warriors.
Two Blues centre Jamie Harrison regained the lead for Cabramatta six minutes into the second half with a neat try in the corner and a 16-14 lead.
After both sides had chances in the next 20 minutes, Huihahau got his second try to break Auburn’s back with 15 minutes left at 22-14 with Webb’s conversion.
Winger Ibudoc Solomona then sealed the win for the Two Blues with 10 minutes left with a vital try for a 28-14 match winning lead after Webb’s conversion.
The game Warriors replied with five minutes left when Antonio Soni scored in the corner for 28-20 with Ruka’s conversion, before Gavin Bertoldi came off the interchange bench for a try to make sure of the two competition points for Cabra with two minutes left.
The Wentworthville Magpies continued their end of season form resurgence with a handsome 48-32 win over Western Suburbs at Ringrose Park last Sunday.
Wenty won the march with an attacking blitz of their own in the first half – started when a Keehan Diamond picked up a charge down of his own clearing kick to send Jenan Parrish away in support to score in the third minute for a 6-nil lead.
Diamond then scored himself in the sixth minute to double the Wenty lead to 12-nil to set the attacking tone for the rest of the match.
Wests centre Tom Capper replied in the 12th minute when he finished a left side movement in the corner for Luke Sharpe to convert and bring the score back to 12-6.
That was as close as Wests got as flying winger Ryan Burrough then brilliantly took a bomb on his own goal line on the next set from the restart and dashed the length of the field to score his first try.
Jayson Lombardo landed his third successful conversion and Wenty led 18-6.
Opposite winger Kilive Cocavucavu then beat the cover defence from dummy half to score an easy try to extend the lead to 24-6 in the 23rd minute with another successful Lombardo conversion.
Wenty now had the bit between their teeth and centre Cecil MacKenzie finished off another sweeping movement on the next set from the kickoff for a 30-6 lead after Lombardo added the extras.
Wests half Damien Doan got something back before half time with a brilliant solo try, but Wenty were still in command at 30-12 in front at the break.
Any hopes of a Wests revival were swept away in the first 20 minutes of the second stanza under a wave of Wenty tries after Wests second rower Royce Tout was held up in goal early in the second half.
Lombardo started the wave of Wenty points when he got to a grubber kick first shortly after Tout was held up to extend the lead to 36-12 with his conversion.
Despite Wenty back rower Michael Lekkas being sin binned by referee Jake Sutherland, the home side went further ahead when Burrough snapped up an intercept and dashed 70 metres to score his second long range try and a 42-12 lead with Lombardo’s conversion.
Simon Greaves then made the most of his return to playing when he scored an easy try midway through the second half and Wenty threatened to turn the score into a rout at 48-12 with 20 minutes to play.
The match then became fiery as referee Sutherland struggled to keep control. Diamond was sin binned for repeat infringements just as Lekkas was returning, before Sharpe stepped through the reduced Wenty defence for his first try for 48-18 with Jack Pearce’s conversion.
After an all in melee with eight minutes left, Diamond was joined in the sin bin by Wests’ Pio Sofa Wenty’s Anre Iro and incredibly for a second time in the half – Lekkas again.
Wests took advantage of the numerical advantage of their 12 against the 10 men of Wentworthville in the closing stages, with Sharpe completing his brace, and winger Apoala Tealama getting two late tries to make the final score more respectable for the visitors.
East Campbelltown finished Blacktown Workers’ faint finals hopes with a convincing 32-18 win at Laybutt Fields last Saturday.
Playing a side laced with Ron Massey players in the wake of recent player troubles, the Workers started brilliantly with early tries to centre Roy Teuku and winger Daniel Parker to lead 8-nil after 20 minutes.
The Eagles then clicked into gear for the last 20 minutes of the half with second rower Ronny Palumbo getting a first half double in his best game of the season.
Eagles backrower Mason Talolua and centre Matt Scheck also got first half tries to give the visitors a comfortable 20-8 lead at the break.
Ben Baker’s 19th try of the season in the first set of the second half finished any chances of a Blacktown comeback. The 2015 Shield Player Of the Year duly converted his own try to extend the lead to 26-8.
Winger Daniel Cassone crossed in the corner 10 minutes later to give the Workers some hope at 26-12, before play ground into a scrappy arm wrestle for the next 20 minutes.
East Campbelltown hooker Jarryd Eggleton sealed the win for the Eagles when he burrowed over from close range with nine minutes left to play. Baker converted to give him 178 points for the season and East Campbelltown a winning 32-12 lead.
Skippy Lipano got a late consolation try that Alex Seini converted to make the score respectable for the Workers.
St Marys tuned up for the finals with a 62-18 hiding of Hills District Bulls at St Marys Leagues Stadium last Saturday.
After a tight, scoreless first 20 minutes, prop Jared Canon opened the scoring with his first try from close range for 6-nil with Jonah Metuangaro’s conversion.
This led to an avalanche of tries – nine unanswered majors in all over the next 40 minutes either side of half time.
Against a jaded Bulls outfit backing up from two tough losses in four days against the Seagulls and Belrose that knocked them out of finals contention, the Saints were ruthless.
Canon completed a double, winger Mose Feilo got a double, while Metuangaro, opposite winger Jake Johnston, half Jake Butfield, and interchange players Peter Nay and Tom Romer all helped themselves to tries in the 40 minute period.
As a result, St Marys led 28-nil at half time and an incredible 50-nil with 20 minutes left to play.
The Bulls saved some face when hooker Jaz Flavell and second rower Jake Brennan got a double in the space of three minutes when the Saints ‘clocked off’ in defence to bring the score to 50-12.
St Marys then switched back on when Butfield got his second try and prop Mitch Simpson crashed over late to blow the lead back out to 50 points with Metuangaro conversions that gave him a personal tally of 18 points.
The deflated Bulls at least got the last word when second rower Jake Brennan scored in the last minute. Veteran prop Hutch Maiava converted to close out the scoring at 62-18 to the Saints.
Belrose sealed a Top Four place by winning their third game in eight days with an easy 64-7 thrashing of wooden spooners-elect Asquith at Storey Park last Sunday.
From the time former US Tomahawks hooker Dave Marando opened the scoring in the 7th minute with the first try, Belrose were generally untroubled for the rest of the first half.
Half Blake Nichols - revelling on his return to Storey Park as an ex Asquith Magpie - bagged a first half double.
That was followed up in the first stanza by fullback Christian Bate posting his 17th try of the season, second rower Andrew Hart crashing over from close range and interchange forward Marcel Ferris crossing on the stroke of half time to ram home Belrose's advantage.
Nichols converted all six first half tries to give Belrose a commanding 36-nil lead at the break.
A total rout appeared to be on when centre Marvin Slavin and versatile Shem Grieve - playing on the wing - crossed for easy tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half to blow the lead out to 46-nil after just 50 minutes. Nichols converted Slavin's try to give him 22 points with seven goals from nine attempts to go with his two tries.
Asquith then had their best period of the match with sustained attack over the next 15 minutes and were rewarded when makeshift half Luke McDonald got to his own in goal grubber kick first midway through the second half to score and at least get the Magpies on the board at 46-6 with Aaron Papera's conversion.
Belrose then came away again against a rapidly tiring defence in the last 10 minutes - with five eighth Alex Zarounas bagging a late double to make the score 58-6 after Manly NYC squad member and prop Jake Morrison neatly converted both tries from close range.
Papera 'brought the house down' - not to mention some comic relief for the weary Asquith contingent that have had to put up with so much this season - when he landed a neat field goal five minutes from time to make the score a remarkable 58-7.
Stand in Belrose centre Beau Abrahams crossed in the last minute to close the match out with Morrison's third straight conversion at 64-7.
Finally, competition leaders Mounties controversially forfeited their match to Guildford Owls set down for last Saturday at Aubrey Keech Reserve.
Despite a shot at history and a 19th straight win, Mounties management cited injury concerns and player requirements in other grades when they officially forfeited the game to the NSW Rugby League last Friday.
The forfeit virtually sealed the top seven teams’ finishing orderDespite the forfeit, Mounites (38 points) still have won the Minor Premiership, with Seagulls (36), St Marys (32), Belrose (29), Guildford (26), East Campbelltown and Wentworthville (24 each) all assured of finlals berths.
Windsor (16), Wests (16) and Cabramatta (14) are locked in a three way battle for the last finals place heading into the last round. Asquith remain last on the table with just one win and two points for the year.
In late breaking news, the last round will now only have six matches played after the ‘Peninsula Derby’ set down for Lionel Watts Reserve on Friday Night will now not be played as a result of another forfeit.
This time, the Peninsula Seagulls advised the League at 8:30am on Friday Morning that due to injuries and unavailabilities from no clearances given by the Manly Junior League, the Shield table runners up could not put a full team out for the match against their local rivals.
The round will now have four matches played on Saturday and two matches played on Sunday.
The Wests v St Marys game at Concord Oval at midday and the vital Windsor v Cabramatta clash at Windsor at 4pm will decide the last spot in the Shield finals.
Radio HHH FM again comes to the fore with their coverage of grass roots league this weekend – despite the Sydney Shield’s “Peninsula Derby” now not being played. The hard hitting League show “A View From The Hill” will now start 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.