The Wentworthville Magpies have put forward a dominant performance in Round 15 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, defeating the Wests Tigers 40-14 at Leichhardt Oval.
Despite some early errors, Magpies fullback Honeti Tuha was in fine form for the away side, scoring a hat-trick and setting up another in the victory. Hooker Cameron King, five-eighth Troy Dargan and winger George Jennings were also strong for the Magpies. For the Tigers, Watson Heleta was their main strike weapon in attack, while Jack Littlejohn returned for the first time since Round 10, replacing Huddersfield-bound Jordan Rankin in the halves.
The Magpies wasted no time getting on the board, with George Jennings diving over in the South-Eastern corner just three minutes into the contest. The try came thanks to an offload from Troy Dargan, before Bureta Faraimo added the extras from out wide for a 6-0 lead. It represented the 11th time the Tigers had conceded the first try of a match in 2017, in worrying signs for the home side.
The Tigers would hit back soon after, however, taking advantage of two mistakes from Tuha. The Wentworthville no.1 first fumbled the ball on a kick return before giving away a penalty, gifting the Tigers valuable field position. It would then be Bailey Sironen and Watson Heleta to hold up the Magpies defence before sending it right to Nathan Milone for the home side's first try. Jack Littlejohn missed the conversion and it was 6-4.
Despite the Tigers try, Wentworthville continued to make big metres upfield, particularly dominating the Tigers right-side defence. Handling errors in key positions prevented the Magpies from capitalising, but eventually it would be Jennings to grab his second and extend his side's lead. The winger snuck down that left edge once again and scored on the same blade of grass as before, with Faraimo once again converting for a 12-4 lead.
The Magpies enjoyed good field position and when Jeff Robson earned his side a penalty, it piled the pressure on the Tigers - and Cameron King made no mistake from dummy-half. His try gave a simple conversion attempt to Faraimo who made the scores 18-4.
The Tigers had a good chance to hit back immediately after the subsequent kick-off snuck under the boot of Robson, but they couldn't crack the Magpies defence when hammering their line. A seven-tackle set then gave Wentworthville a golden opportunity and when an offload from Kelepi Tanginoa found Tuha, the fullback raced 30 metres to score. The conversion made it 24-4 in the shadows of half-time.
While all the momentum was with the Magpies, The Tigers would cross for a much-needed try shortly before the siren sounded; a maiden Intrust Super Premiership NSW try for Tony Tali. The centre ran a destructive line, trampling Tuha to score. It left the half-time score at 24-10, with the Magpies enjoying 57 per cent possession and seven line-breaks to the Tigers' two.
The Magpies have given up leads to top sides in recent weeks and early in the second half, the home side were determined to continue that trend, with a new enthusiasm almost seeing them score again. Littlejohn was denied for an obstruction, however, allowing the Magpies to maintain the pressure. It was then Tuha who would once again find the line - a second for the fullback and a second scored from dummy-half.
Playing with confidence, Tuha was in fine form at Leichhardt and scored once again - this time off a Troy Dargan chip-kick. After failing to find the try line at all in the previous 14 rounds, it capped a hat-trick for the fullback, who also had a try-assist to his name. Another Faraimo conversion made it 34-10.
Milone would then be in for his second with Veiru Mapesone sending the winger over down the left-hand side, but he would fail to convert to keep a 20-point difference between the two sides.
The Magpies weren't done with yet, however, and neither was their custodian; with 10 minutes remaining, Tuha threw the last pass to Bureta Faraimo, who scored a well-deserved try down the Magpies left edge. The winger converted his own try to make it 40-14 - a score which would remain until the game's conclusion.
Tuha continued to show intent for a fourth try in the dying stages, including an ambitious chip-and-chase which almost came off in the final play of the game. It finished a fantastic afternoon for the Magpies, who regain their place in the competition's top eight for the time being.
Wentworthville Magpies 40 (H Tuha 3, G Jennings 2, C King, B Faraimo tries; B Faraimo 6 goals) def Wests Tigers 14 (N Milone 2, T Tali tries; V Mapesone goal)