The St Marys Saints moved to the top of the Sydney Shield table with an at times scrappy 33-20 win over the Hills District Bulls at St Marys Leagues Stadium last Saturday.
After the Bulls got off to a perfect start when winger Meli Katia scored his first try in the third minute, the Saints then assumed control of the match for the next half hour.
Half Meni Luke, back rower Blake South finished off short-range moves against poor goal line defence, before centres Sam Harris and Justice Utatao both crossed to give the Saints a well-earned 20-4 lead 10 minutes from half time.
Bulls centre Jake Lennox finished off a Bulls movement against the run of play when the Bulls finally got some possession five minutes from half time to have the Saints leading only 20-10 at the interval.
The second half became a scrappy affair as both sides were guilty of giving away too much possession from dropped ball and silly penalties.
Bulls fullback Isaac Gorman finished off one of the few completed moves to have the visitors back in striking distance at 20-14, before hard running Saints lock Antonio Faguuaea powered over with 20 minutes remaining, to keep the Saints comfortable with a 26-14 lead.
The Bulls for all their errors kept trying and were rewarded for their efforts when Katia scored his second try wide out to have the Bulls again threatening at 26-20 inside the last 10 minutes.
A neat Jake Toby field goal with three minutes left gave the home side a seven-point cushion, before a runaway Andrew Oughtred try with the last play of the match sealed the Saints’ win.
In another stop start affair dominated by stoppages, Cabramatta scored two tries in the last 10 minutes to secure a second straight win by outlasting Western Suburbs 32-22 at Campbelltown Stadium last Saturday.
After a tight opening 10 minutes, Wests five eighth Hosea Leuea opened the scoring with a brilliant solo try to give the Magpies an early lead.
Cabra winger Tyla Tamou replied for the Two Blues in the corner on the back of a repeat set from an in-goal stripping penalty to level the scores, before Wests backrower Kelepi Lui crossed from a Kelsey Coakes pass at the back end of a goal line drop out repeat set to give the Magpies the lead again at 12-6.
The first bout of poor discipline in the match – this time from Wests – saw Cabramatta build up enough pressure for five eighth Jordan Galloway to score from close range to level scores a second time.
The mountain of possession told when Two Blues centre Sione Kaivelata crossed wide out to give Cabra the lead for the first time, before Wests got enough football for winger Christian Yassmin to score in the corner three minutes from half time to have scores again locked up at 16-all at oranges.
Cabramatta then lost their discipline to give away the first six penalties of the second half – including giant interchange prop Zac Wedesweiler being sin binned for dissent – before breaking the deadlock for a third time with just 12 men when Tim Jones beat ineffectual goal line defence to score.
As the match was still bogged down in a string of penalties (26 in all blown by referee Mitch Currie), Wests lifted to level the scores for a fourth time when Brandon Su’a carried defenders over with him to score and lock the game up again at 22-all with 10 minutes left.
The Two Blues through sheer will took the lead one last time when Tamou completed his second try with an individual burs, before prop Tim McDonald sealed the win when he barged over from close range with three minutes left.
Defending Premiers East Campbelltown shrugged off a poor first half when they over ran a tired Moorebank Rams 52-28 at Belmore Sports Ground last Sunday to record their first win of the season.
After the match was transferred to Belmore following Waminda Oval’s closure in the wake of more heavy rain in Sydney last week, the Eagles opened brightly when backrower Grant Lahey opened the scoring in the fifth minute for a 6-nil lead.
The young Rams outfit then struck back hard, with tries to Sipu Tuitavake, Corey Matthews and Tristan Evans-Tsoi to give the Rams a 16-6 lead after 28 minutes.
In a first half tryfest, Aaron Teariki got a try back for the premiers to pull the scores back to 16-12, before Rams five eighth Kieran Hayman replied with his try to re-extend the Rams lead to 22-12.
The Rams then countered Samisoni Passi’s try for the Eagles when they took full advantage of an East Campbelltown turnover on the stroke of half time for Ben Cassell to score and have the Rams out to a remarkable 28-18 lead at the break.
Despite being fired up by a blast from coach Richard Barnes at half time, the premiers took a long time to wear down the gallant Rams in the second half.
Hooker John Da Silva and centre Theo Leato got the Eagles back with tries to regain the lead at 30-28, before evergreen winger Craig Moustakas scored in the corner to extend the lead to 34-28 with 20 minutes left.
However, as has been the case several times already this season, the Rams tired badly in the game’s closing stages.
Mason Talolua busted the contest open for the Eagles with his try with seven minutes left, before a late double from fullback Ed Connor – on his way to a personal tally of 24 points with eight goals from nine attempts – blew the score out to secure the Eagles’ win.
Rounding out the weekend, the Wentworthille Magpies belted the hapless Asquith Magpies 60-18 at Ringrose Park last Sunday in the ‘battle of the birds’ to complete the round.
Jack Miller and Reece Goldsmith crossed for tries in the first 10 minutes against the poor Asquith defence to have Wentworthville up 12-nil, putting the visitors on the back foot early.
2014 Shield Player of the Year Vinny Ngaro laid on a super cut out pass to send Asquith winger Alex Nicholls-O’Neill over to bring scores back to 12-6 after 20 minutes – but that was as much hope as the visitors had in the contest.
Asquith five eighth Jon Grimes was sin-binned for dissent in the 28th minute – and it was from there that the home side asserted their dominance.
Miller completed his second try with superb line running against the grain, and winger Josh Minhinnick opened his account whilst Grimes was in the bin, before Wentworthville centre Atini Gafa scored in the 39th minute to have his side out to a match winning 30-6 lead at half time.
Andrew Taylor and Shae Jarvis scored determined individual tries in the space of five minutes to get Asquith back to 30-18 early in the second half, before Minhinnick’s second try midway through the second half re-opened the floodgates.
Jordan Latham (in a sweet moment against his old club), prop Kurt De Luis and Minhinnick’s hat trick made sure any hopes of an Asquith comeback were quashed, before centre Jermaine Mati-Lefai completed the rout with a superb dummying individual try in the final minute.
The Mounties match against Belrose at Aubrey Keech Reserve and the Guildford game against Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at McCredie Park were both postponed in the wake of Sydney’s rain last week.
St Marys’ win sees them take sole lead of the Shield table on six points, ahead of six teams on four points. Moorebank’ loss sees them the only team yet to win so far this season on the bottom of the ladder.
Round five starts on Friday Night – weather and ground permitting – and continues across the weekend with four games on Saturday, and one match on Sunday.
St Marys take on Cabramatta at St Marys Leagues Stadium on Saturday at 2pm in the pick of the round’s fixtures.
Stay tuned to NSWRL.com.au for a full recap of the Round’s action, or follow on live by visiting live.nswrl.com.au throughout the weekend’s play.