The Wentworthville Magpies signalled their presence as a Ron Massey Cup contender when they outplayed two time defending premiers Mounties 22-6 in the match of the round at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Saturday.
In a tight, tough first round befitting the latest instalment of meetings between the traditional second-tier arch rivals, the match was scoreless for nearly the entire first half.
Magpies backrower Danny Howard opened the scoring two minutes from the break whe he finished a right-side movement wide out for a 6-nil lead at the break.
Centre turned backrower Atini Gafa then extended the Magpies lead to 10-nil in the 49th minute with his first try from a lever Jake Walsh cross kick on the right.
The Mulga had their chances – winger Alofi Matele called back for obstruction as he was crossing to score before dropping the ball with a try on down the left in the 60th minute – before the Magpies broke the game open with Gafa’s second try from another right-side break 17 minutes from the end to give the Magpies a 16-nil lead.
A 65-metre intercept try to newly-promoted Sydney Shield centre Josh Minhinnick sealed the two points for ‘Wenty’ at 22-nil with 12 minutes left – giving Minhinnick 12 tries in six games across all grades this season.
Matele got Mounties’ consolation try with seven minutes left to add some respectability to the final score for the well beaten home side.
The Guildford Owls scored the minor upset of the Easter round with a well-deserved 22-10 win over the previously unbeaten St Marys Saints at McCredie Park last Saturday.
It seemed business as usual for the Saints when former Manly centre Tony Satini opened the scoring with the game’s first try in the fourth minute.
However, fired up for a big performance by coach Paul Fletcher, the Owls bustled the Saints’ ‘all-star’ backline into error with great defensive pressure for the full 80 minutes.
This pressure converted to points with tries to Lazarus Brown and Dom Timoteo to give the home side a 12-4 lead after 29 minutes.
Class centre Geoff Daniela broke free to get the Saints’ second try on the stroke of half time to have the Saints down 12-10 at the break.
The second half saw the Owls continue to grind the frustrated Saints down with more rock solid defence and great scramble.
Interchange hooker Tyrone Shelley burrowed over from close range in the 57th minute to extend the Guildford lead to 18-10, before centre Josh Camroux scored the critical try with 15 minutes left to give the Owls their match winning 22-10 lead.
Guildford held off the Saints comfortably enough in the closing stages to secure their win and show that the Ron Massey Cup was again wide open.
The Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles put aside off field drama that marred their week with an emphatic 48-16 win over the Auburn Warriors at Lidcombe Oval last Saturday to remain the Cup’s only unbeaten team.
In a nip and tuck first half, former Windsor Wolves winger Chris Aunese-Scalan got the first try for the visitors, before the Warriors had their best period of the match in the middle of the first half.
Fullback Abraham El-Zakhem got the Warriors replay, before interchange player Henry Ah Sam got a double in the space of three minutes to shoot the Warriors out to a 16-6 lead less than five minutes from half time.
The Warriors then replied in kind when interchange forward Alan Niulesa scored in the shadows of half time to have the Warriors leading only 16-12 at the interval.
Showing a great statement of character to shrug off the drama of the sacking of their Intrust Super Premiership coach Pat Weisner during the week, Blacktown then scored 36 unanswered points and six unanswered tries in the second half to blow Auburn away in the closing stages.
Prop Jordan Hall barged over from close range to give the visitors the lead before interchange back Shaun Fitzgerald scored his first try to extend the Blacktown lead to eight points.
In a remarkable last 20 minutes, Fitzgerald completed his double, half Josh Tangitau scored a brilliant double of his own and centre Ray Lesoa crossed the stripe to complete an emotional Blacktown victory.
Finally, the Concord-Burwood-Glebe Wolves maintained their place in the Cup’s Top Eight when they came away in the last 20 minutes to record a solid 30-16 win over Cabramatta at New Era Stadium last Saturday evening.
In another match that was nip and tuck for the first hour, Jeremy Safi got the first try for the Wolves, before Brent Anderson and Tom Harris got tries in response for the Two Blues to give the home side a 10-4 lead five minutes from half time.
Wolves interchange forward Nathan Leatigaga finished off neat lead up work to cross in the shadows of half time to level scores at 10-all at the break.
The Wolves came out on fire with the first two tries of the second half – to former Asquith centre Jeco Makatoa from a Kem Seru pass before five eighth Rhys Davies scored – to lead 18-10.
The Two Blues came back one last time midway through the second half when lock Alec Bush finished a blind side short pass on the right to get the home side back to within two points, before returning North Sydney Bears prop Joe Dokonivalu strolled though paper thin defence to score under the posts with 15 minutes left to extend the Wolves lead again to eight points.
A superb Davies cut out pass hit Seru on the chest for the game’s last try in the corner with seven minutes left.
Hills District Bulls and Western Suburbs enjoyed byes – with the Bulls’s bye and Blacktown’s win seeing them go joint top of the table on 12 points, two ahead of St Marys and Wentworthville on 10. Cabramatta are anchored to the bottom as the only winless team after seven rounds.
A complete round of five matches will be played this weekend – with three games on Saturday and two games on Sunday.
The pick of the round sees the ‘local derby’ between St Marys and the troubled Blacktown Workers on Saturday Night at St Marys, followed by Concord-Burwood-Glebe meeing the Bulls at North Sydney Oval on Sunday as the curtain raiser to the ISP blockbuster between Norths and the NZ Warriors.