The Wentworthville Magpies kept their place in the Sydney Shield top four with an exciting 32-22 win over the Guildford Owls in an entertaining match at Ringrose Park last Sunday.
After Guildford got off to the perfect start when winger Ashley Brown scored in the opening set of six tackles in the match, Wenty struck back hard to take an early advantage.
Magpies hooker Ayden Carling replied in the seventh minute, before half Brendon Newtown got an early double to give Wenty an 18-4 lead after 20 minutes.
Carling then completed his double in the 27th minute as the Magpies threatened to take the game away from the visitors.
Guildford then began their comeback when returning Parramatta Holden Cup squad centre Nicholas Okladnikov crossed for a try six minutes from half time to get the Owls back to being only 22-10 down at the interval.
After a scoreless opening 15 minutes of the second half, the Owls continued their comeback when hooker Jaydn Field scrambled over out of dummy half from close range to bring the margin back to six points.
When five eighth Tyrone Shelley scored with 15 minutes left in his return to Shield action after being dropped from Guildford’s Massey Cup team, the Owls had remarkably levelled scores at 22-all with Todd Sapienza’s conversion to set up a grandstand finish.
However, it was Wentworthville who steadied and regained the lead when former Blacktown Workers interchange forward Andy Pritchard scored with eight minutes left in his second game back at the Magpies after leaving the Workers’ club a month ago.
Wenty fullback James Goring then finally secured the win with the last try of the match with under two minutes left.
St Marys kept their place inside the Shield’s Top Four with an unconvincing 40-22 win over a game Western Suburbs Magpies at Lidcombe Oval last Saturday.
After Wests winger Jayden Wheelhouse got the ‘back to Lidcombe’ promotion off to the dream start in the 13th minute with the day’s first try, the Saints then flexed their muscle to take charge of the first half.
Prop Taylor McCann barged over near the posts to level the scores, before winger Fuimanu Enese finished off two right sided raids to give the visitors a 16-6 lead.
Fellow Saints prop Henry Lilomaiava then stormed over near the uprights from close range to give the Saints a comfortable 22-6 lead at the break.
Showing great spirit in feeding off a growing crowd of Magpies supporters that eventually built up to over 1000 people for the Ron Massey Cup match later in the day, Wests then mounted their comeback at the start of the second half.
Wheelhouse completed his double on the right flank five minutes into the second half, before nippy half Blake Higgins finished off a sweeping movement on the next set of six tackles from the restart to get the Magpies back to within six points.
Backrower Justin Frain then powered over through poor Saints defence five minutes later to level the scores at 22-all with Higgins’ conversion just 10 minutes into the second half.
St Marys then worked their way back down field for their opposite winger John Tuliatu to score down his flank mid way through the second half and regain the lead for the Saints.
The key moment came with 10 minutes left when a long break by St Marys fullback Andy Oughtred saw what appeared to be a blatantly forward pass on the inside for former Blacktown Workers half Matt Place to score behind the posts in his first game for his new club. Aiden Glanville converted to send the Saints out to a 34-22 lead.
Against a tiring defence, centre Sam Harris made sure of the two points for the Saints when he scored the last try out on the right in the final minute.
In the final match of the reduced weekend round, Mounties moved back to the top of the Shield table with a 36-4 disposal of the Hills District Bulls at Crestwood Reserve last Sunday.
After dominating the possession and field position to start the match, Mounties eventually struck when starting hooker John Martin muscled over under the posts from close range out of dummy half in the 10th minute.
In the Bulls’ first real attack inside the Mounties defensive 20 metre area, centre Mitch Zampetides finished off a right sided raid against the run of play to get the home side on the roard 10 minutes later at only 6-4 down.
Mounties then again took control of field position and possession for the rest of the half, and were rewarded when Martin – by now having moved to half to make way for Kurt Robinson at hooker – got his second try down the right side eight minutes out from half time to give the visitors a 12-4 lead at the break.
Saints prop Brandon Raeli opened proceedings for the second half just three minutes into the second stanza when he strolled over under the posts almost without a hand being laid on him for an 18-4 lead.
The Mulga then continued their dominance of field position and threatened to blow the score right out when interchange prop Connor Cheeseman burst through the token goal line defence twice in eight minutes to complete a personal double midway through the second half for a 30-4 lead.
The match degenerated in the last 20 minutes under a mountain of errors until a midfield burst by strong winger Leva Li in the final minute sent half Zeik Foster away to under the posts.
Winger Jye Ellul – backing up after scoring Malta’s only points in their loss to Lebanon in the Phonecian Cup Test Match at Cabramatta last Saturday night – added the extras to complete the 36-4 win.
The other six teams – Asquith, East Campbelltown, Belrose, Blacktown, Moorebank and Cabramatta – all had byes.
Mounties and St Marys continue to set the pace on 16 points with Mounties on top on percentages. Wentworthville (14) are third with Asquith’s bye moving them into the Top Four on 12 points. Moorebank got their first points for the season with their bye – but still sit at the bottom of the ladder on two points.
This weekend sees a full round of matches with Moorebank playing Cabramatta at Hammondville Oval as the only Saturday game and five matches set down for Sunday.
The pick of Sunday’s games sees the top four teams play each other – Wentworthville take on St Marys to start a bumper day at Ringrose Park at 11:15am, while Mounties travel to Storey Park to take on a freshened up Asquith at 3pm.