WEEK THAT WAS | Sydney Shield Round 15

The Wentworthville Magpies easily thrashed the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 58-4 in the Sydney Shield ‘match of the round’ at Ringrose Park last Sunday – but the win was shrouded in controversy.

The match started over 35 minutes after the scheduled 1:00pm kick off time when the designated Doctor provided by the Magpies as the home team for the match – and the Ron Massey Cup game that followed as per the competition guidelines for all Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield matches – advised NSWRL and Wentworthville officials shortly before kickoff that he was running late.

Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles officials were then quick to claim a forfeit once the 30 minute grace period after the scheduled 1:00pm kickoff time passed without the Doctor’s presence – under the same competition guidelines above. 

This forfeit was allegedly declined by ground officials when the designated doctor finally arrived at Ringrose Park for duty – with the Workers Sea Eagles then playing the match under a protest that was formally lodged after fulltime.  This protest will be looked at and considered by NSWRL Competition Officials this week.

When play finally got under way, it didn’t take long for the Magpies to take control with prop Mana Anonga crashing over in the third minute for the opening try.

The Magpies then slowly worked their way on top in a grinding next 15 minutes before centre Jack Miller got his first try in the 21st minute to continue his rich vein of try scoring form.

Wenty then extended their lead late in the first half with tries to KJ MacKenzie (back in his usual position of centre) and fullback James Goring to give the Magpies a handsome 22-nil half time lead.

Wenty winger Braydon Walsh then got the first of his three tries four minutes into the second half to extend the Magpies lead, before Blacktown fullback Jaydan Wharerau got the visitor’s only try seven minutes later too get the Workers Sea Eagles on the board at 28-4.

However, once Walsh got his second try in the 56th minute, the match then became a procession for Wentworthville against a distracted Workers Sea Eagles outfit.

Miller completed his hat trick with his 10th and 11th tries for the season in the space of three minutes to decide the on-field result, before Walsh completed his hat trick with 12 minutes left.

Opposite Wenty winger Rameses Tuipulotu then scored to bring up the Magpies’ 50 points with eight minutes left, and bench player Nicki Toomata got the last Wenty’s 11 tries in the last minute to complete the rout on the scoreboard – with the two points to be ultimately confirmed off the field.

Competition leaders Mounties had to work extremely hard – including having to play for 52 minutes with 12 men – before overcoming a game Western Suburbs 22-4 at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Saturday to record their 10th straight Sydney Shield win this season.

After the match was transferred from Campbelltown Stadium 24 hours before kickoff to ‘save’ the ground for the Wests Tigers NRL clash with the Roosters last Sunday, a tight, scoreless first 15 minutes showed that the young Magpies outfit were up for the contest.

Mounties prop Jake Goodwin finally broke the deadlock in the 17th minute when he powered over from close range for the opening try and a 6-nil lead after Maltese international Jye Ellul converted.

The game’s flash point came 11 minutes later when Mounties fullback Corey Makelim was sent off by referee Martin Jones for a dangerous throw when making a tackle – reducing the Mulga to 12 men for the last 52 minutes of the match.

Lifting their game with their 12 men, Mounties almost scored in the shadows of half time when former Belrose forward Jett Hobbs lost the ball over the line in a tackle.

The Mulga then took their next chance on their next attacking set when a left side spread saw Ellul finish for a try in the corner and a 10-nil half time lead.

The 12 man Mounties outfit then were happy to stay in the grind with Wests through the middle, and extended their lead when a Ben Whitehouse bust sent five eighth Zeik Foster away for a critical try midway through the second half for a 16-nil lead after Ellul converted.

Wests were finally rewarded for their efforts with 16 minutes left when after running the ball on the last tackle, Justin Frain put a kick in behind for bench forward Hala Masila to pick up and score – giving Wests some hope at 16-4.

Mounties then worked their into field position on the back of a couple of penalties for Ellul to convert a penalty goal with 10 minutes left to extend the lead to 18-4, before Foster scored a brilliant solo try to complete his double with two minutes left to complete the Mulga’s hard fought 22-4 win.

The Guildford Owls kept their place in the Shield’s Top Eight with they came away in the second half to beat Cabramatta 40-22 at New Era Stadium last Saturday.

After hooker Tyrone Shelley opened the scoring in the ninth minute to give the visitors an early lead, the Two Blues dominated the rest of the first half in their best period of the match.

Centre Jay Belgrove got the Two Blues’ first try to give the home side the lead in the 18th minute with Brendan Cox’s conversion, halves Ray Alo and Trent Touma each scored a superb try at the back end of the first half to give Cabramatta a handy 18-4 lead at the break after Cox landed all three of his first half conversion attempts.

Stung into life by coack Todd McKeown at the interval, the Owls came out smoking to start the second half.  First, bench player Peni Fainu scored five minutes into the second half to get the visitors back in the game.

Shelley then completed his double five minutes later, before centre Nick Okladnikov scored Guildford’s third try in just six minutes from the restart set to reel in the half time deficit and regain the lead at 22-18.

Two Blues centre Lachlan Hughes levelled scores with his try in a quick Cabramatta response to set up a thrilling finish at 22-all with 20 minutes left.

Both sides had chances as the match reached the last 10 still deadolocked, before Guildford prop Frank Salu crashed over to give the Owls the lead for a decisive third time.

Classu Owls half Todd Sapienza scored on Guildford’s next attacking set two minutes later, before bench player Abel Shirley made sure of the two competition points when he scored the game’s last try with four minutes left.

Finally, defending premiers East Campbelltown kept their place in the Shield’s Top Four with a workmanlike 20-6 win over the Hills District Bulls at Crestwood Reserve in rainy conditions last Sunday.

With the heavy ground under foot and intermittent showers making the game a grind through the middle, the match started off in tight fashion until 2015 Shield Player Of the Year Ben Baker continued his positive return to the Eagles with the first try of the match in the 14th minute.

Eagles winger Craig Moustakas doubled the visitors’ lead when he scored his first try in the corner seven minutes later.

Then the Bulls got on the board when fullback Troy Black – one of six players ‘dropped back’ by the home side from their Ron Massey Cup squad the previous week to take advantage of their Massey Cup bye – finished a movement wide out in the 25th minute to reduce the Eagles’ lead to 8-6 with James Horvat’s conversion.

Eagles second rower Adam Soultan then scored what became a critical try in the wash up from close range five minutes from half time.  Sean Connor converted and the visitors had a good 14-6 lead in the conditions at the break.

The grind continued – laced with more than its share of errors – in the second half as both sides struggled with the conditions. 

Moustakas completed his double 10 minutes into the second half to extend East Campbelltown’s lead to 18-6, before the match meandered through the rest of the second stanza while both teams ground the game out through the middle.

Connor converted a penalty goal with 10 minutes left to give the visitors a match winning 14 point lead at 20-6 – a lead that East Campbelltown comfortably held to final whistle.

Asquith and St Marys enjoyed byes, while the Belrose match against Moorebank at Lionel Watts Reserve was postponed by mutual agreement between the clubs last week until Sunday, June 25.

Mounties still lead the Shield on 26 points from Wentworthville and St Marys (24 each) – with Wenty’s two points from the weekend now under protest.  East Campbelltown round out the Top Four on 20 points.

Moorebank now again have two games in hand at the bottom of the table for their foiur points.

This weekend sees a full round of six games scheduled for the first time in a month – starting with the Wests clash with Moorebank at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday at 3pm as part of a bumper day of league where matches in all three NSWRL senior competitions will be played.

The pick of Sunday’s five games involve the Top Four teams – St Marys play Mounties in a blockbuster at St Marys Leagues Stadium at 11am, while East Campbelltown take on Wentworthville at Waminda Oval at 2:30pm.