The 2016 runners-up, Mounties, moved back to the top of the Sydney Shield table with a decisive 40-22 win over perennial arch rivals Wentworthville Magpies in the Easter ‘match of the round’ at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Saturday.
In a match where supremacy see-sawed for the first half, it was the Magpies that got the early jump on the home side. Starting in white-hot touch whilst controlling early possession, tries to backrower David Sisifa, centre K-J Mackenzie and winger Emosi Alamoti saw ‘Wenty’ take a 16-nil lead after just 18 minutes.
Mounties – once they got their hands on some football – then replied in turn when kick started by veteran prop Tere Glassie’s try in the 23rd minute. Glassie’s try was the start of six unanswered tries and 34 unanswered points in the 20 minutes either side of half time to blow Wentworthville away.
Hooker John Martin, half Brad Speechley and full back Corey Makelim crossed by half time for Mounties to incredibly lead 24-16 at the break. Centres Josh Toole and Maile Li finished off backline movements in the first 10 minutes after half time for what turned out to be a match winning 34-16 lead just 10 minutes into the second half.
In a second half that became scrappy, Sisifa’s second try with 10 minutes left gave the Magpies some hope of a late comeback, before Winstone Asotasi scored with three minutes left to put the game to bed for the Mulga.
In a sensational tryfest, a late Nautu’a Masima field goal saw the Guildford Owls upset former competition leaders St Marys 39-38 at McCredie Park last Saturday.
After Ben Cartwright and Jake Toby got the first two tries of the day to give the Saints an early 10-nil lead, Todd McKeown’s young Owls came back with replying tries from Masima, hooker Julian King and fullback Ashley Brown to lead 16-14 after 25 minutes and set the tone for the rest of the match.
Josh Institoris scored in the shadows of half time to have the Saints in front 18-16 at the break – with no one at McCredie for the early start expecting the drama that unfolded in the second half.
When Toby completed his double and backrower Jake Brennan crossed for the Saints 10 minutes into the second half, Luke Swain’s charges looked to be back in control at 30-16 in front.
Guildford came back again when Brown and King completed their doubles to bring the Owls back to within two points to set up the grandstand finish.
Jake Butfield landed a penalty goal to give the Saints a four point lead, before Masima’s second try for the Owls levelled the scores inside the final 10 minutes.
Masima’s critical field goal came next to give Guildford the lead, before Owls centre Robert Wharewera finished off a sweeping left side move to extend the home side’s lead to 39-32 with under five minutes left.
The Saints had one last chance when Sunny Tuigamala scored the game’s 14th try (seven each) with under two minutes left for Toby to convert and have the scores back to 39-38. The Owls held out the last couple tackles from the restart to inflict the first loss for the Saints in Shield for the season.
The Easter round started back on last Thursday night when the Asquith Magpies won a fiery contest 32-14 over the Hills District Bulls at Crestwood Reserve.
In a tight first half that wasn’t short of niggle, referee Matt Treneman was kept busy in blowing 16 penalties and sending four players to the sin bin.
Jeremy Marshall and Shae Jarvis (Asquith), along with Aaron Weston and Jake Lennox (Hills District) were all given 10 minutes rest to cool off for various offences from fighting to dissent.
Meanwhile, as both sides were brutal at times in defence, Ben Mitchell opened the scoring for the Bulls in the 25th minute, before leading Shield try scorer Alex Nicholls-O’Neill posted his 10th try for the season in the shadows of half time to level scores at 6-all at the break.
Bulls fullback James Horvat scored in the first two minutes to give the Bulls a 12-6 lead – but that was as far as the home side got for the rest of the night.
Asquith prop Alipate Tani levelled scores when he pounced on the bouncing ball form a Jon Grimes bomb to score, before 2014 Shield Player of the Year Vinny Ngaro took charge.
Ngaro crashed over after stepping through the Bulls goal line defence from close range before sending Marshall away to score in the corner to extend the Asquith lead to 22-12.
Ngaro finished a mixed night when he became the fifth player sin binned mid way through the second half – but that didn’t stop the Magpies. Tani scored a second try off the back of a Jarvis 40/20 kick with 10 minutes left before Jarvis finished the night in style with a solo try five minutes from time to complete the Asquith win.
Western Suburbs – helped by having a handful of players drop back from their Ron Massey Cup team from their bye – were far too strong for defending premiers East Campbelltown 42-12 in their match at Campbelltown Stadium last Saturday.
From the time centre Eddie Vatuvei, prop Heheako Tuima and livewire half Andrew Kazzi scored early tries to give the Magpies an early 18-nil lead after just 15 minutes, the shell shocked Eagles were always under the pump to come back.
Winger Theo Leato got the Premiers on the board in the 23rd minute, before the Magpies put the game virtually out of reach with a double to winger Christian Yassmin giving Wests a 30-6 lead at half time.
Ashleigh Nisbet’s try 10 minutes into the second half threatened to turn the match into a rout at 36-6, before a lacklustre second half dominated by the last portion of 27 penalties from referee Ethan Linnane (16-11 to East Campbelltown) saw Grant Lahey score for the Eagles to get the premiers into double figures and Wests centre Rhys Armstrong finish a Vatuvei break five minutes from the end to close out the 42-12 win.
Cabramatta returned to the winner’s list with a 38-28 win over Belrose in another high scoring affair at New Era Stadium last Saturday.
The Two Blues started well when prop Siupeli Huihahau got the first try in the fifth minute before Berose replied when fullback Christian Bate levelled the scores in the 16th minute.
Cabramatta then took control for the rest of the first half with a double from winger Jayden Mahara and a try from centre Sione Kaivelata to take a commanding 20-6 lead to half time.
A piece of individual brilliance from Marcel Ferris from a kick chase saw his try get the Eagles back to 20-10 five minutes into the second half before the Two Blues secured their match winning lead.
Prop Tim McDonald crashed over before five eighth Nesiasi Mataitonga scored from close range to have the Two Blues out to a 32-10 lead just 10 minutes into the second half.
Belrose, however, came storming back in the middle of the second half with a double to livewire interchange player Billy Valu and a try to centre turned backrower Conor Roxburgh to get Belrose back to 32-28 with under five minutes left.
Cabramatta then forced a turnover in the last 90 seconds and took full advantage when hooker Reece Grkinic put the game to bed and scored on the next set right on full time send Belrose to their third straight loss for the first time in Shield since 2015.
Finally, the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles put aside a dramatic week off the field with a handsome 48-26 win over Moorebank at Hammondville Oval last Saturday.
After being rocked by the twin dramas of the sacking of Blacktown’s Intrust Super Premiership coach Pat Weisner, followed by the resultant walkout in sympathy by a number of players in the lower grades - Workers officials were forced to call up fringe players from the Workers’ internal Under 20’s and feeder Minchinbury Jets A Grade team to fill numbers.
This did not stop Blacktown getting off to a flyer with the first try to fullback Jayden Whaerau followed by a double to centre Josese Rika to give the Workers Sea Eagles an early 18-nil lead after just 17 minutes.
Moorebank then struck back with tries to hooker Tristan Evans-Tsoi, winger Corey Matthews and backrower Ryan Monaghan to level the scores at 18-all after half an hour.
Nippy Blacktown half MJ El-Boustani then got his first try, before prop Richard Pohahau crashed over on the stroke of half time to give Blacktown a remarkable 30-18 half time lead.
A Kieran Hayman try, conversion and penalty goal drew Moorebank back to 30-26 with 20 minutes left, before Blacktown showed great character after their dramatic week to come away in the last 15 minutes.
El-Boustani completed his hat trick of tries to put the game out of the Rams’ reach, before Rika completed his hat trick with two minutes left to complete a famous Blacktown win.
Mounties moved to the top of the table ahead of St Marys on percentages after their win with both teams on 10 points, followed by Wentworthville, Blacktown Workers and Asquith on eight points. Moorebank remain winless after six games at the bottom of the ladder.
Another full round of six games is set down for this weekend, with three games on Saturday and three games on Sunday. The ‘local derby’ clash between St Marys and the troubled Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at St Marys Leagues Stadium on Saturday is the pick of the weekend’s games.