A converted try to Hills District Bulls fullback James Horvat with nine minutes remaining propelled the Hills District Bulls to a thrilling 20-18 win over defending premiers East Campbelltown in the Sydney Shield ‘match of the round’ at Waminda Oval last Saturday evening.
Played in warm temperatures despite the twilight 6pm kickoff, the match was a thrilling contest to start the Eagles’ title defence.
The Eagles got off to the perfect start when five-eighth Brett Lahey got the opening try in the fourth minute.
However, the Bulls meant business and replied quickly to take a 10-6 lead inside 15 minutes through tries to Troy Black and Danyon Barnes to set the tone for the rest of the contest.
Grant Lahey scored in the 20th minute to give the Eagles a tight 12-10 half-time lead.
The Eagles looked to have the upper hand when Chris Standing got their third try 10 minutes second half to extend the home side’s lead out to 18-10.
The Bulls then set up a grandstand finish when Barnes completed his second try with just on 20 minutes left to get the visitors back to within four points.
Both sides had chances until Horvat scored and converted his own try to give the Bulls the lead – a lead that they held on to in a frantic final 10 minutes to remain unbeaten in two starts.
The Belrose Eagles also left it until late in the other Sydney Shield thriller played last Saturday – coming from 18-2 down early in the second half to score three tries in the last 20 minutes to pip the Moorebank Rams 20-18 at Hammondville Oval.
In a tight and at times scrappy first half, the Rams finally opened the scoring seven minutes from the break when centre Dalton Smith got the opening try. Belrose second rower Andrew Layton landed a penalty goal on the stroke of halftime to get the Eagles on the board at 6-2 down at the break.
Moorebank came out on fire to start the second half with a Sam Atuau double to blow the Rams lead out to 18-2 10 minutes into the second half.
As has been the case often with Belrose, the Eagles worked their way back into the game as the second half wore on. Charles Buttrose got their first try with 20 minutes left, before classy half Luke Vescio brought the visitors within striking distance with eight minutes left.
Former Peninsula Seagulls hooker Chris Williams levelled the scores with six minutes left with a try on debut for the Eagles for Layton to convert and Belrose to hit the front at 20-18. It was a lead that Belrose clung on to in the face of late desperate Moorebank attack to secure their win.
Saturday’s other matches were all one-sided blowouts.
The Asquith Mapgies were brought back to earth with a thud when they were thrashed 64-14 by a classy St Marys outfit at St Marys Leagues Stadium.
Alex Nicholls-O’Neill opened the scoring in the fourth minute to give Asquith an early 4-nil lead – but that was as far as the visitors got for the rest of the day.
With Adrian Davis tuning up for the Saints’ Ron Massey Cup Grand Final rematch with Mounties with two tries and 10 goals from 11 attempts for a personal tally of 28 points, the Saints were far too strong – jumping out to a 36-8 half time lead.
The Saints went on with the job in the second half to score 11 tries to three – with winger Jesse Jackson completing a hat ttick.
The Guildford Owls turned around their first round loss to Asuqith with a resounding 62-10 trouncing of Cabramatta at McCredie Park.
With Owls five eighth Nautu’a Masima completing a personal best five tries, and half back Todd Sapienza completing a double, the Owls ran in 12 tries to two against the shell shocked Two Blues.
2016 Shield Runners Up Mounties returned to their powerful best when they belted the hapless Western Suburbs 64-nil at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Saturday.
The young Magpies stood up to Mounties early until Brad Speechley scored first try in the 13 the minute – before the class of the Mulga became too much as the match went on.
Mounties led 24-nil before scoring at a point a minute in the second half – with Maile Li and Jake Ellul completing doubles and Jake Steadman having a day out with a try and 10 goals from 11 attempts for a personal tally of 24 points.
Finally, the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles stayed unbeaten with a hard fought 36-28 win over Wentworthville at Laybutt Fields last Sunday.
IN a nip and tuck try for try contest played in oppressive conditions, Blacktown got an early jump on the Magpies to lead 18-nil after 25 minutes with tries to Kelepi Manu, Braeden Batiste and Jake Attard.
Wenty struck back with three tries of their own – through Josh Minhinnick, Ayden Carling and Jermaine Mati-Leifi to be only down 18-16 at the break.
In a thrilling second half, Shane Kiel extended the Blacktown lead only for Wenty to hit the front with under 15 minuts left after Minhinnick and Mati-Leifi completed their doubles.
However, Blacktown steadied in the closing stages - with Andrew Pritchard scoring the match sealing try with under three minutes left to give the home side a perfect two wins from two starts to kick off their season.
Mounties, Blacktown and the Bulls share the lead as the only teams with a two from two record after the first fortnight of matches.
This weekend sees five games on Saturday and one match on Sunday – with the Mounties clash with St Marys on Saturday at Aubrey Keech Reserve the pick of the matches.