The Wentworthville Magpies re-affirmed their place as a Ron Massey Cup contender with a convincing 34-12 win over the Hills District Bulls in the feature match of the round at Crestwood Reserve last Sunday.
In a tight and tough first half typical of the long standing rivalry between the two clubs, chances in the first half arm wrestle came at a premium.
Wenty centre Atini Gafa opened the scoring in the 12th minute with his first try which was converted by Jake Walsh, before Bulls winger finished off good Bulls buildup to score five minutes from half time to leave the Magpies up 6-4 at the break.
Gafa got his second try just three minutes into the second half to extend the Wenty lead to eight points with Walsh’s conversion, then former Guildford winger James Gammidge finished off a movement wide out in the corner to take the visitors out to a 16-4 lead after 10 minutes of the second half.
Bulls interchange back Josh Fraser got the Bulls back into the match at only 16-8 down midway through the second half with his try, before Wenty blew the game open with three tries in 10 minutes to decide the match.
Former Blacktown Workers Intrust Super Premiership (ISP) forward Nick Kassis barged over for his try to start surge in the 64th minute. Prop Tanielo Lasalo followed suit four minutes later to virtually seal the win, before centre Ethan Tangira made a sure thing of the two competition points with his try to blow the score out to 34-8 with seven minutes left.
Bulls half Chad O’Donnell got the Bulls their consolation try with three minutes to play.
Double defending premiers Mounties moved to second spot on the Cup ladder with a 34-12 win over Concord-Burwood-Glebe in their postponed Round Four game at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Sunday.
The final score flattered Mounties who were made to work extremely hard for a good 60 minutes by the Wolves who came prepared to play.
The Wolves showed they meant business when centre Scott Williams got the opening try in the fourth minute to take an early lead. Former Gold Coast Titans winger Leva Li marked his overdue promotion to Massey Cup when he replied for Mounties seven minutes later.
As the big Wolves pack matched the Mulga forwards up front, Mounties took play to the extremities for centre Jake Steadman’s try eight minutes from half time for the home side to hit the front at 10-6 with John Kennedy’s conversion.
In a key moment on the stroke of half time, the Wolves had a ‘try’ disallowed by referee Daniel Olford, and Mounties held their 10-6 lead to the break.
With another Blacktown Workers defector in Kurt Aldridge pulling the strings at half in his first game for the Wolves this season, the visitors threatened to pull off the upset when second rower Joe Dokonivalu crashed over nine minutes into the second half for a 12-10 lead with Aldridge’s second conversion.
Then the Mulga clicked into gear – starting with winger Maile Li getting his first try in the 57th minute to regain the lead for Mounties at 14-12.
From the restart set, half Brad Speechley burst through the tiring defence to score, before makeshift centre Fou Tagiilima crossed for a third Mounties try in seven minutes and a 22-12 lead.
Mounties then went on with the job as the Wolves ran out of puff in the last 10 minutes – with prop Rod Coates barging over in the 71st minute, and Maile Li completing his double on the next set of six two miniutes later to round out the Mulga’s fifth straight win after Steadman converted both of their late tries.
With Mounties and the Wolves also both on scheduled byes, the Mulga got four competition points out of the weekend for their win, with the Wolves getting two points for the weekend from their bye.
Finally, Western Suburbs produced something close to their 2016 form with a 40-4 thrashing of a disappointing Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in their match at Campbelltown Stadium last Saturday.
After a scoreless opening 10 minutes, Wests’ attack exploded into life against a disinterested Blacktown defence.
A grubber kick from 2016 Player Of The Year Brendan Waters in the 11th minute hit the upright for centre Veiru Mapesone to pick up and get the first try to start the procession.
Five minutes later, a Mason Farrell burst from a Waters pass was finished off by winger Tala Mapesone on the next play for a 10-nil lead.
In a moment of sweet irony in the 25th minute, another former Blacktown Workers ISP lock Jerry Key scored under the posts against the club to extend the lead to 16-nil with Veiru Mapesone’s second conversion.
As the Magpies were breaking the Blacktown defensive line almost at will, another Farrell break six minutes from half time found hooker Luke Williams who in turn sent Veiru Mapesone away for his second try.
Williams then dummied over from close range at acting half in the shadows of half time to give Wests a commanding 28-nil lead at the break.
Any hopes of a Blacktown miracle comeback were finished just three minutes into the second half when another Waters grubber kick in goal saw centre Josh Davis win the race ahead of a host of teammates to score.
Veiru Mapesone’s conversion gave him a personal tally of 18 points and Wests were threatening to turn the match into a rout at 34-nil.
Wests’ momentum then slowed in the second half, and Blacktown winger Shaun Fitzgerald crossed for the Workers/Sea Eagles’ consolation try to at least get then on the board midway through the second half.
Waters then finished off easily his best game of the season when he sent backrower Josiah Tamasi over to score the game’ last try with 15 minutes to play at 40-4 after Farrell converted.
St Marys, Guildford, Cabramatta and the Auburn Warriors also had byes to go with those given to Mounties and the Wolves.
St Marys’ bye saw them keep the Cup lead on 24 points, with Mounties’ better percentage seeing them move to second place ahead of the Bulls and Wentworthville who all have 22 points.
Wests’ win kept them in the Top Eight on 13 points, ahead of Auburn Warriors on 12. Cabramatta are still bottom of the ladder after their bye on 10 points.
The Queen’s Birthday weekend sees four matches set down for decision with two games on Saturday and two games on Sunday.
Saturday’s games sees Wests take on Mounties at Campbelltown Stadium and Cabramatta hosting Guildford at New Era Stadium.
Sunday’s matches feature the Wolves playing Auburn Warriors at North Sydney Oval as the curtain raiser to the ISP match between Norths and Wentworthvilles, while Wentworthville take on Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Ringrose Park.