WEEK THAT WAS | Sydney Shield Round 12

Sydney Shield competition leaders Mounties kept their place at the top of the Shield table with a comfortable 38-20 win over a game Blacktown Workers Se Eagles outfit at Laybutt Fields, Blacktown last Sunday.

Mounties got off to a superb start when Maltese international winger Jye Ellul opened the scoring in the first set of six tackles of the match, before returning centre Maile Li followed suite with his first try just five minutes later for an early 10-nil lead.

Blacktown then fought back in their best period of the match as centre Skippy Lipano and powerful backrower Cameron Davis finished off wide running movements for tries to level up scores at 10-all after just 15 minutes.

Mounties then again asserted their authority after a 15 minute arm wrestle when five eighth Zeik Foster scored, before prop Brandon Raeli barged over from close range six minutes from half time to give the visitors a handy 20-10 lead at the break.

Raeli and Foster both completed their doubles in the first 10 minutes of the second half to virtually win the match for the visitors at 30-10 after Ellul converted Foster’s second try.

Blacktown fullback Daniel Cassone gave the home side some hope of a comeback with his try midway through the second half at 30-16, before Mounties interchange forward Ben Whitehouse made sure of the Mulga’s win with his try with 15 minutes left.

Maile Li got a second try – and his 10th for the season – with seven minutes left to extend the lead to 38-16, with Blacktown pivot Kieran Wyld getting a consolation try for the home side in the last two minutes.

Wentworthville kept their place in the Shield’s Top Two with a hard working 42-18 win over an undermanned Belrose at Lionel Watts Reserve last Sunday.

Badly missing leading Shield try scorer Christian Bate on personal leave, the patched up Eagles were on the back foot from the time the opening kick off went dead.

Wenty took full advantage of their early field position when centre Jack Miller got the first try wide on the right in the sixth minute.

Stand in fullback Richie Goodwin ran off a Wallace Tangiiti pass to get a Belrose reply against the run of play six minutes later, before Wenty five eighth Jake Rafferty-Butfield strolled through flimsy goal line in the 21st minute to extend the Magpies’ lead to 12-4.

Belrose centre Marvin Slavin got a second try against the overwhelming run of play 10 minutes before half time, before a Belrose turnover in the shadows of half time saw Wenty interchange player Nicki Toomata score wide out on the next set to give the visitors a deserving 18-8 lead at the interval.

Belrose then put together their best period of play in the first 10 minutes of the second half. 

First a superb Tangiiti cut out pass hit unmarked winger Isaac Kassis on the chest for an easy try in the corner, then replacement hooker Maverick Tweedie burrowed over from dummy half to level scores up at 18-all after Layton converted from near touch.

Wenty then upped the ante in defence, forcing turnovers and setting up field position for prop Mana Aonga to burst through from close range and score mid way through the second half to regain the lead for the Magpies at 24-18 with Brendan Newton’s simple conversion.

Miller’s second try against a backpedalling defence then broke the Eagles’ backs with just over 18 minutes left. 

Fellow Wenty prop Solomone Lasalo then got a similar barging try to Aonga’s with 10 minutes left to make sure of the win, before an Aonga bust up the middle with five minutes to go fed a pass to fullback James Goring to finish the job under the posts.

St Marys returned to their best form with an emphatic 46-20 win over defending premiers East Campbelltown at Waminda Oval last Sunday.

The Saints set the platform for the big win in the first half hour – initially with an early blast from tries to prop Veta Lilomaiava and five eighth Aiden Glanville for an 8-nil lead after 10 minutes.

St Marys then extended the lead through the middle with tries to lock Latu Fifita, interchange prop Taylor McCann and second rower Joe Vaegaau to set up a commanding 24-nil lead over the shellshocked Eagles.

East Campbelltown half Chris Standing got a late first half try to get the Eagles on the board at 24-6 down at the break.

Any hopes of a trademark Wamdina Oval comeback by the premiers were dashed when Saints winger John Tuliatu scored in the opening minute of the second half, with a second try to Glanville which he converted himself blowing out the lead to 34-6 just 10 minutes into the second stanza.

Theo Leato got a try back for the premiers, before St Marys put the game to bed with converted tries to fullback Andy Oughtred and interchange player Brad Borland to have the match decided at 46-10 with 20 minutes to play.

Late tries to singer Amanono Tovio and centre Ben Baker – who the Saints kept quiet most of the day – were only of consolation value to the well beaten Eagles.

Asquith moved back into the Shield’s Top Four with a handsome 34-12 win over Cabramatta at New Era Stadium, Cabramatta last Saturday night.

Against a Two Blues outfit boosted by five players dropping back from their Ron Massey Cup team thanks to a bye in the Cup, Asquith won the match with a storming first half after Cabra prop Taku Simon got the opening try in the second minute.

Centre Adam Kalcina, returning fullback Jake Pickering, winger Jeremy Marshall and backrower Cameron Yeates all crossed for tries in a slashing first half that gave the visitors a 22-6 lead at the break.

Asquith looked to be running away with the match when Kalcina got his second try six minutes into the second half to blow the lead out to 28-6, before Cabramatta came back following Magpies skipper Aaron Groom’s banishment to the sin bin by referee Cameron Paddy.

Cabra interchange forward Siu Huihahau burst over to score while Groom was in the bin to bring scores back to 28-12 with still 25 minutes left.

Asquith then steadied after Groom returned from the sin bin as the match got bogged down under a stack of errors, and eventually secured the two points with just over 10 minutes left when Magpies five eighth Jon Grimes sent a deft chip kick over the top – for the flying Pickering to take on the full and dash the last 45 metres for score his second try under the posts.

The Hills District Bulls snapped a five game losing streak in just edging out Western Suburbs 22-20 in the match at Crestwood Reserve last Sunday.

The young Magpies started the better in the early exchanges and converted their advantage to points when Jamin Williams finished off neat lead up work to score under the posts in the sixth minute.

Wests extended the lead when centre Eddie Vatuvei got through poor defence to score at the end of a repeat set for a 10-nil lead after 12 minutes.

Five minutes later, the Bulls opened their account when winger Anthony Overton finished off a well directed attack to score, before Jake Attard – another player who started the year with Blacktown Workers – burrowed over from dummy half to score under the posts and level scores at 10-all after 23 minutes.

Wests then regained the lead on the stroke of half time when Magpies winger Charlton Schaafhausen picked up a loose ball from a bomb by Bulls half James Boustani on his own goal line, dashed 50 metres upfield, then fed a pass to centre Nathan Tui who bolted the last 50 metres to score a spectacular try.

Blake Higgins converted to give Wests a deserved 16-10 half time lead.

A Bulls turnover in the first set of the second half opened the door for backrower Corey Kurnoth to finish off the counter attack wide out for a try to extend the lead to 20-10.

The class of former Lebanese international Boustani then came through when the Bulls needed it most when he scored a good solo try with 18 minutes left to set up a grandsand finish at 20-16 after he converted his own try.

A right side raid with seven minutes left saw centre Josh Fraser – another ex-Blacktown Workers player on Bulls debut – dive over to score lock the game up.  Boustani nailed the conversion to give the Bulls the lead for the first time at 22-20.

In a dramatic finish – even though Boustani missed a late penalty goal attempt for a late tackle that would have made sure of it – the Bulls were able to hang on in the closing minutes to snare their first Shield win since Round Five.

Finally, Guildford moved back into the Shield Top Eight when they came away in the second half to post an easy 52-14 win over Moorebank at McCredie Park last Sunday.

After a tight, scoreless first 10 minutes, the Owls opened the scoring when Julian King marked a return to his regular position of hooker with the first try in the 14th minute.  Winger Jayden Wheelhouse scored in the corner three minutes later for a 10-nil lead.

Classy centre prospect Nick Okladnikov scored in the 21st minute to extend the Guildford lead to 16-nil.

The Rams were able to respond after a steady 15 minutes late in the first half when winger Brodie Vassallo finished a backline movement in the opposite corner five minutes from half time – reducing the Guildford lead to 16-4 at the interval.

Guildford interchange prop Austin Dias charged over from close range to start the second half, before Vassallo got a second try in the 12th minute of the second period to keep the Rams in the game with a faint hope at 22-8.

However, Moorebank’s resistance was finally broken with Todd Sapienza’s first try with 20 minutes left – this burst the floodgates open for the Owls.

Opposite winger Ash Brown bagged a double, while centre Cajun Alaalatoa and interchange player got over the stripe as Guildford scored five tries in 12 minutes to put the Rams away with a 46-8 lead.

Rams five-eighth Keiran Hayman got a consolation try for the visitors, before Sapienza completed the Owls’ half century of points with a try in the final minute.

The Top Three teams remain unchanged on the Shield table – Mounties (20), St Marys and Wentworthville (both 18) holding their places with Asquith up to fourth on 14 points. Moorebank remain winless on the bottom of the ladder with just two points from a bye.

This weekend sees a reduced round with four matches – Mounties play Cabramatta on Saturday at Aubrey Keech, while Sunday action sees St Marys playing Moorebank, Asquith taking on Guildford and East Campbelltown playing Belrose at Waminda Oval in a postponed Round One game that was washed out on the opening weekend of the season.