The St Marys Saints showed they will again be a contender for the Sydney Shield premiership when they outlasted Mounties 14-12 in the battle of the heavyweights at St Marys Leagues Stadium last Saturday.
After the match was transferred from Aubrey Keech Reserve less than 24 hours from kickoff, both teams showed why they made Preliminary Finals in 2016 – playing a tight, tough contest in the wet, rainy conditions.
The Mulga opened the scoring in the seventh minute when fullback Corey Makelim got his first try.
Mounties maintained their lead until giant Saints interchange forward Mark Laban crashed over from close range with three minutes left in the half to level the scores.
Saints half Jake Butfield slotted a penalty goal after the half time siren to give the home side an 8-6 lead at the break.
The second half saw both sides have chances but not convert with scoring until Blake South got the vital try for the Saints with 13 minutes left – extending the home side’s lead to 14-6.
The Mulga gave themselves a late hope when Makelim got his second try with three minutes left to get the scores back to 14-12 – but were held by the Saints defence in their last set of the match for the home side to hand on and win.
The rest of the round saw form reversals and upsets galore – none the least of which was the gutsy 24-16 win by Western Suburbs over Moorebank at Hammondville Oval last Saturday.
The Magpies – desperate after conceding 100 points in their first two starts – brought in a handful of players from the Magpies’ Ron Massey Cup team that had their match against Auburn washed out to add some steel to their lineup.
It was a move that hit paydirt with great effect as the Magpies began with an attacking blitz of three first half tries - led by fullback Tom Capper opening the scoring in the first set of six of the match.
Other tries followed to Joe Peato and Jon Kairouz by half time to give Wests a shock 14-nil half-time lead.
The upset was right on when Kelsy Coakes scored four minutes into the second half to extend the lead to 18-nil – before the Rams hit back through tries to Tristan Evans-Tsoi and Corey Matthews to have the Rams within striking distance at only 18-12 down with 15 minutes left.
A superb second try to Peato gave the Magpies a 10-point buffer with 10 minutes left, before a Christian Wakeham penalty goal with three minutes left completed the upset win at 24-12.
The Rams got a try to Matt Wicks in the final minute – but by then it was too little, too late.
The Cabramatta Two Blues continued the weekend of form reversals with a remarkable 30-6 thumping of the Hills District Bulls at New Era Stadium last Saturday.
After conceding 62 points to Guildford the previous week, the Two Blues came out breathing fire and took it right up to the Bulls in the early exchanges.
Cabra were rewarded for their fast start when Tom Vella posted the opening try in the third minute.
Wingers Tom Tongi and Jamie Harrison scored tries on opposite flanks in the 15th and 31st minutes respectively to give the Two Blues a handy 14-nil half-time lead.
After the Bulls had their chances early in the second half, Cabramatta then made the most of theirs.
Vella completed his double midway through the second half before Jaydin Tavita put the seal on the win with his try 12 minutes from time to blow the lead out to 24-nil.
Cabra prop Tim McDonald put the icing on the cake when he barged over with eight minutes left for a remarkable 30-nil lead, before Bulls centre Mitch Zampetides got the Bulls’ consolation try in the last two minutes to save a complete shut out.
The Belrose Eagles showed they would again be a finals contender when they completed a ruthless 40-nil shut out of the Guildford Owls at McCredie Park last Saturday.
The Eagles’ swarming defence forced countless Guildford errors – two of which led to tries in an incredible first 15 minutes that virtually won Belrose the match.
Fullback Christian Bate, second rower Cody Abrahams, winger Isaac Treml and lock Marcel Ferris all crossed to score in the opening burst that saw the visitors lead 20-nil after just 15 minutes. Treml bagged his double 10 minutes from half time to give Belrose a commanding 24-nil lead at the break.
Classy half Luke Vescio killed off any hopes of a Guildford comeback when he scored from another turnover two minutes into the second half, before Bate dashed 95 metres from a poor Guildford kick to complete his double and kill the Owls off at 34-nil.
The 19-year-old prop Jake Morrison scored under the posts midway through the second half to complete the 40-nil scoreline – with the Owls attack that had scored tries almost at will in their 62-point drubbing of Cabramatta completely blotted out of the match by the brick wall like Belrose defence.
Finally, the Wentworthville Magpies opened their season account with a handsome 42-22 win over defending premiers East Campbelltown at Ringrose Park last Sunday.
Boosted by the injection of three key forwards and two handy interchange players from their Ron Massey Cup team on their bye, the Magpies meant business from the kick off with centre Josh Minhinnick scoring the first try in the opening set of the match.
Class Eagles half Chris Standing replied with a neat try of his own in the 20th minute to give the premiers a 6-4 lead – it was to be their only lead of the match.
Wenty struck back with tries to prop Tanielo Lasalo, hooker Ayden Carling and interchange player Kurt De Luis to lead 22-6 with under 10 minutes left in the half.
Eagles centre Jayden Lonergan scored wide out before a Brendan Newton penalty goal on the stroke of half time had Wenty leading 24-10 at the break.
Evergreen Eagles backrower Ronny Palumbo got the first try of the second half to get the premiers back into the match, before the Magpies took control with Chris Ve’e’s try to extend the Wenty lead again.
Carling completed his double to counter the game Eagles reply from pint sized winger Craig Moustakas to have the Magpies out of sight at 36-22. Minhinnick book-ended the match with his second try in the last minute to complete the Magpies’ win.
The Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles match against Asquith at Laybutt Fields was postponed after Sydney’s big wet last week closed the ground on the Friday before the game.
Five teams – Mounties, Blacktown, St Marys, Belrose and the Bulls – all share the lead after three rounds on four points each. Moorebank and (sensationally) East Campbelltown remain winless at the bottom of the ladder.
Round 4 sees five games on Saturday and one game on Sunday, with the Mounties clash with Belrose at Aubrey Keech on Saturday morning at 11:15am the pick of the round.