A four try performance from fullback Christian Bate propelled the Belrose Eagles to a convincing 42-22 win over a plucky Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Laybutt Fields, Blacktown last Sunday.
The Eagles got off to an early flyer when a cross-field kick from half Nick Ferris found winger Issac Treml for the first try in just the second minute to give the visitors the lead.
When Bate scored his first try in finishing off another Belrose attack just four minutes later, the lead had doubled to 12-nil and the visitors looked irresistible.
Indeed, Belrose should have extended their lead when centre Isaac Kassis dropped the ball in goal trying to ground it to score what would have been the visitors’ third try.
Blacktown then worked their way back down field after finally getting some possession for comeback ex-NRL prop Hutch Maiava to barge his way over from close range to get the home side on the board in the in the 12th minute.
It was the veteran’s first try for another new club after answering an SOS call to come out of retirement and help boost Blacktown’s player stocks - hit by departures in the wake of the recent dismissal of Blacktown’s Intrust Super Premiership coach Pat Wiesner.
When Blacktown second rower Eddie Wulf forced his way over to score in the 22nd minute, the home side levelled scores against the run of play with Luke Chalkley’s conversion.
Belrose then regained the lead when centre Marvin Slavin finished off a right sided raid wide out in the 29th minute for an 18-12 lead – which the visitors held to half time despite wasting at least two more scoring opportunities late in the half.
When giant interchange forward Rodney Mason – younger brother of former NRL star Willie – reached out to score the first try of the second half just four minutes into the second stanza, it appeared that Belrose would go on with the job leading 24-12.
This appeared more of a certainty when Bate finished off good lead up work in the middle for his second try midway through the second half to extend the lead to 30-12.
Again, Belrose ‘bombed’ a further opportunity to put the game to bed shortly afterwards when backrower Josh Nicholls threw a forward pass to an unmarked Treml to blow a certain try.
Blacktown threatened to make Belrose pay for their wasted chances with the most spectacular try of the match with 13 minutes left.
Workers Sea Eagles fullback Jayden Wharerau scored a brilliant 75 metre individual try through sheer speed to keep the home side in the contest at 30-18.
Bate completed his hat trick with a 40 metre burst with nine minutes left to once more seemingly put the game to bed for Belrose at 36-18.
However, Blacktown kept coming even with the game seemingly lost and were rewarded for their tenacity when powerful centre Cameron Davis scored wide out on the right three minutes later to the home side’s last try.
Bate then finished off good lead up work from half Nick Ferris and interchange prop Jesse Offen in the final 90 seconds for his fourth try – which five eighth Shem Grieve duly converted (in completing a perfect seven goals from seven attempts) to complete the 42-22 result.
Bate has now scored seven tries in his last two games to join Asquith winger Alex Nicholls-O’Neill as the Shield’ leading try scorer with 11 tries for the year to date.
Defending premiers East Campbelltown also made it successive wins when they edged out Cabramatta 36-34 at New Era Stadium last Saturday in the other match played in the reduced weekend round.
In another typically high scoring Sydney Shield contest, East Campbelltown came ouit blazing with centre Grant Lahey scoring in the first set of six tackles of the match.
Winger Gio Vatuvei got the visitors’ second try five minutes later to give the premiers an early 10-nil lead ahead of the clock.
Cabramatta then replied when winger Matt Tomkins finished off a left sided movement in the corner to get the Two Blues on the board at 10-4.
East Campbelltown backrower Adam Soultan then crossed in the 18th minute for returning ‘prodigal son’ fullback Ben Baker to convert in his second game back for the premiers.
Diminutive winger Craig Moustakas then finished off another Eagles movement to score wide out on the right to extend the visitors’ lead to 20-4 after 27 minutes.
Cabramatta then mounted the first of a series of comebacks in the match when skipper Tim McDonald and second rower Tenisio Ahovelo scored tries in the space of three minutes late in the half to bring the Two Blues back to within four points.
Baker slotted a penalty goal for East Campbelltown on the stroke of half time to give the visitors a 22-16 lead at the break.
After a tight arm wrestle for the first 15 minutes of the second half, Ahovelo crashed over to score his second try to level scores at 22-all with Brendan Cox’s conversion.
This sparked East Campbelltown to life once more to score three tries in eight minutes in the most decisive period of the match.
Skipper John De Silva crossed in the 60th minute, before Baker got his first try back in Eagles colours three minutes later.
Lahey then completed his double after clever leadup work from another returning Shield premiership winner in former Wests Tigers Holden Cup half Wayde Dunley to give the Eagles what seemed a match winning 36-22 lead.
The Two Blues, however, came back again in the closing stages. Interchange forward Dion Harris crossed with six minutes left, before prop Siupeil Huihahau crashed over with 90 seconds left to get the scores back to 36-34 to give the premiers a late scare before time ran out.
The other match set down for the weekend saw the Moorebank Rams forfeit their match to the Asquith Magpies last Saturday night – less than 24 hours before the scheduled 3pm kickoff las Sunday at Storey Park.
A raft of injuries and unavailabilities forced the Rams to notify NSW Rugby League and Asquith officials around 6pm last Saturday evening that they could not field a team the next day.
The other six teams enjoyed byes last weekend – so there is no change to the top three teams on the table with Mounties (14 points), St Marys (14) and Wentworthville (12) still holding down those places.
Blacktown’s loss and Moorebank’s forfeit sees Asquith move into the Top Four on 10 points ahead of Guildford (also on 10) on percentages. Moorebank remain on the bottom of the ladder with no wins.
This weekend sees the six teams that had last weekend off do battle. This will start with the “back to Lidcombe” match between Western Suburbs and St Marys on Saturday – if the Lidcombe surface can be restored in time after the attack by vandals last weekend.
The other two matches will be played on Sunday – where Wentworthville host Guildford at Ringrose Park and Hills District Bulls play Mounties at Crestwood Reserve.
Last weekend’s scheduled six teams enjoy byes this weekend.