WEEK THAT WAS | Sydney Shield Round 14

A penalty goal from five eighth Aiden Glanville with 10 minutes to play saw the St Marys Saints scrape home 24-22 over the Asquith Magpies in a thrilling Sydney Shield ‘match of the round’ at Storey Park last Sunday.

St Marys – boosted by three Ron Massey Cup players ‘dropped back’ a grade with the Saints’ Cup side on a bye – scored the opening try when backrower Sonny Tuigamala crossed in the third minute.

Asquith centre Adam Kalcina got the Magpies’ reply seven minutes later, before St Marys established dominance in the middle of the first half.

Two tries to half Jake Toby in the 14th and 22nd minutes, followed up by winger Ratu Tuisese  scoring in the corner gave the Saints a handsome 22-4 lead after Glanville landed his third conversion from wide out.

Asquith then started their comeback when five eighth Jon Grimes scored in the shadows of half time to keep the outplayed home side in the game at only 22-10 down at the break.

The Magpies then had their best period of the match in the first 20 minutes of the second stanza – with fullback Jake Pickering posting his 10th try of the season six minutes into the second half, before veteran half Aaron Groom’s try with 20 minutes left levelled scores at 22-all with a third conversion from utility back Ash Calvert-Evers.

Both sides had their chances over the next 10 minutes before – after the Saints turned down two kickable penalties for no result – a stripping the ball penalty by referee Tim Hannon from close range saw Glanville land what turned out to be the winning penalty goal for the Saints in the 10th minute.

Again, both sides had late opportunites, but the Saints controlled the ball better in the closing stages to secure their win and stay in second spot on the Shield ladder.

On a weekend of last minute thrillers in the Shield’s main matches, a ‘miracle’ try from five eighth Zeik Foster as the final siren sounded saw competition leaders Mounties ‘get out of jail’ to beat a gallant Belrose Eagles 22-18 in a heartstopping postponed Round Four match at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Sunday.

After a scoreless first 10 minutes, it appeared to be ‘business as usual’ for the Mulga as fullback Corey Makelim and hooker John Martin got the first two tries to send home side out to a 12-nil lead after former Cabramatta Two Blues, Newtwon Jets and Randwick Rugby Union winger Chris Taripo converted in his first game in Mounties colours.

Belrose, however, came back hard at the competition leaders – with winger Anthony Raheb fnishing off a neat movement in the corner in the 20th minute, before stand in hooker Andy Layton burrowed over in the shadows of half time to lock up scores at 12-all at the break after Wallace Tangiiti converted both tries.

The minor upset was well and truly on as opposite Belrose winger Richie Goodwin extended the lead with his try 10 minutes into the second half, which Tangiiti duly converted to give Belrose a deserved 18-12 lead.

Strong Belrose defence which forced Mounties to put two clearing kicks out on the full in the second half, was holding that lead into the final five minutes – when the match reached an unbelievable climax.

First, a Belrose lost ball in the tackle on their own 40 metre line with under four minutes left saw Taripo finish off a sweeping backline movement from the scrum to score in the corner.

Taripo missed the conversion from touch to level the scores, before in a remarkable last play of the match from the restart, interchange prop Connor Cheeseman burst through the tiring Belrose defence before sending Foster away on a 60 metre glory dash under the posts to score the winning try as the final siren sounded – completing the Mulga’s ninth straight win and breaking Belrose hearts.

Taripo converted from in front to complete the remarkable win - worth four points to the Mulga as they completed their second scheduled bye over the weekend as well.

Western Suburbs snapped a five game losing streak with a hard fought 30-24 win over the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Campbelltown Stadium last Saturday.

Blacktown opened the scoring in the fifth minute when a five eighth Keiran Wyld made a break to send winger Antonio Soni away for the first try.

Wests fullback Jamin Williams replied six minutes later from a Blake Higgins pass, before a break from wide running interchange forward Cameron Davis sent Ioane Ioane away for Blacktown’s second try and a 12-4 lead with Luke Chalkley’s second conversion.

Both sides then swapped the lead in close to a try for try contest in the rest of the first half.

First, Wests centre Oscar Tui finshing off a Higgins pass off the back of a penalty in the 25th minute, before another clever Higgins pass bench player Roderigus Ceasar to give the Magpies the lead for the first time at 14-12 six minutes later.

Blacktown had the last word in the first half when interchange player Amoni Tufui scored under the posts on the stroke of half time to give the vistors an 18-14 lead at the break after Dom Ayoub converted from in front.

Blacktown looked in control when Davis barged over from close range from a Wests turnover at the start of the second half for a 24-14 lead with Ayoub’s second conversion, before the young Wests outfit fought back.

First, interchange player Jack Mitchell scored seven minutes into the second half to bring Wests back to within six points.  Then a superb solo effort by Williams for his second try levelled scores at 24-all after Higgins converted with 15 minutes left.

Wests lock Ben Powers then gave the Magpies the lead for the first time when he scored with just over 10 minutes left.  Higgins converted, and the Magpies held on in the closing stages to secure their win.

Finally, Wentworthville consolidated their place in the Shield Top Four when they came away to score a 40-16 win over the Hills District Bulls at Crestwood Reserve last Sunday.

In a typically tough affair between the long standing rivals, the match was a real contest for the first 60 minutes as the Bulls took the game up to Wenty.

The Bulls got off to the perfect start when centre Anthony Overton got the first try in the third minute.  Wentworthville centre Jack Miller responded for the Magpies with his first try in the 15th minute after a tight period of play.

Bulls prop Doug Dean crashed over from close range to regain the lead for the home side at 10-6, before Wenty bench player Tepai Tepu-Smith finished a Magpies movement to snatch the lead back for the visitors at 12-10 with Brendon Newton’s second conversion – a lead Wenty held at half time.

Miller got his second try three minutes into the second stanza to extend the lead before he Bulls came back when Isaac Gorman scored in the 54th minute to again bring the Bulls back in touch at only 18-16 down with James Boustani’s second conversion.

Wenty then slowly wore the Bulls down in the last 20 minutes to gain the upper hand – starting with winger Brayden Walsh’s try from a Bulls turnover in the 57th minute to again extend the lead to 24-16 when Newton again converted.

Classy Wenty stalwart KJ MacKenzie – playing in the unaccustomed role of fullback – then scored the critical try to break the game open with 15 minutes left.

The Magpies then went on with the job against a tiring Bulls defence in the last 10 minutes with tries to hooker Ayden Carling with seven minutes left and backrower Chris Ve’e close to full time to complete their victory.

Guildford, Cabramatta, East Campbelltown and Moorebank also had byes last weekend.

Mounties’ win and bye sees them shoot four points clear at the top on 26, from St Marys and Wentworthville on 22.  East Campbelltown’s bye and Asquith’s loss sees the defending premiers move into the Top Four for the first time this season on 18 points.

Moorebank are still on the bottom of the ladder despite their bye on four points.

The Queen’s Birthday long weekend sees four games scheduled – two on Saturday and two games on Sunday.

Saturday’s games sees Mounties aim for a 10th straight win when they play Wests at Campbelltown and Cabramatta playing Guildford at New Era Stadium.

Sunday’s fare pits Wentworthville and Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Ringrose Park, while Hills District Bulls play East Campbelltown in a ‘stand alone’ fixture without Ron Massey Cup play at Crestwood Reserve.

The Belrose match against Moorebank at Lionel Watts Reserve set down for this Sunday has been transferred to Sunday, June 25 at the same venue.

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