WEEK THAT WAS | Sydney Shield Rd 16A

A try from winger Jaydan Wharerau with less than 30 seconds remaining gave the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles a miracle 42-38 win over the Asquith Magpies in their postponed Sydney Shield match at Laybutt Fields, Blacktown last Sunday.

In a match that Asquith dominated for long periods with slick attack, clever play saw centre Jeremy Marshall score the opening try in the fourth minute.

Magpies fullback Jake Pickering burst away with sheer speed to post his 11th try for the season three minutes later to give the visitors an early 12-nil lead after Jared Palmer converted both early tries.

A well weighted cross field kick saw Blacktown winger Pattyloma Aupaau score the home side’s first try in the 12th minute to get on the board, before the Asquith attack again stepped up a gear in the middle of the half.

Given plenty of liberties through the middle, winger Ari Bou-Sleiman finished a left side raid for his try in the 16th minute.

Marshall then superbly completed quick Asquith hands for his second and third tries in the space of five minutes to give the Magpies a commanding 26-6 lead at the half hour mark.

Blacktown then took advantage of the Magpies dropping off themselves in defence to fire two warning shots across the bow for what was to come later with two quick tries late in the first half.

Intrust Super Premiership squad member and stand in captain Tyler Cassel burst over to score his first try seven minutes before half time.

Then centre Amanaki Manu finished off a movement through some poor defence in the last minute of the first half to get the Workers Sea Eagles back to just 26-18 down at half time after he converted both of their late first half tries.

Asquith started the second half as they did the first with more blistering attack.

Palmer scored in Asquith’s first set of the second half, before Marshall completed his fourth try on the end of more good lead up work behind the non plussed Blacktown ruck defence to give the Magpies a seemingly match winning 38-18 lead with half an hour to play.

On the back of missed Asquith opportunities as the Magpies tried to score with nearly every set for a period, Blacktown started their comeback with 20 minutes left when fullback Kelepi Manu got his first try.

Cassel then scored an inspired second try from close range with 15 minutes left, before – in a repeat of their comeback the previous week at Storey Park – Kelepi Manu completed his double just three minutes later.

Amanaki Manu converted all three tries that Blacktown scored in the space of eight minutes – and the home side were incredibly back to just 38-36 behind with 10 minutes to play.

Both sides had chances in the frantic final stages, until with just 45 seconds left a high Blacktown kick with their last tackle of the match was fumbled before Wharerau swooped to dash away for the match winning try near the posts.

It was the only time that Blacktown had led all day – despite Asquith pleas to referee Josh McGowan that fell on deaf ears for what appeared to be a Blacktown knock forward in contesting the last fateful kick.

Byron Fruean converted after the final siren – but by that stage the home side were already celebrating their miracle win that kept them in the Shield Top Eight.

The Belrose Eagles had to scramble to beat a luckless Moorebank Rams outfit 34-28 at Lionel Watts Reserve in the other postponed Sydney Shield match played last Sunday.

Belying their status on the bottom of the Shield table, the Rams dominated the opening 10 minutes – with unmarked winger Matt Wicks dropping the final pass into touch in the 5th minute as the first of three ‘bombed’ tries for the visitors.

Moorebank were rewarded for their ascendancy when centre Dalton Smith got the first try from another right side spread in the 10th minute to give the visitors a 6-nil lead with Corey Matthews’ conversion.

When Belrose finally got some football, they worked to the other end where hooker Maverick Tweedie burst over out of dummy half to score his – and the Eagles’ – first try five minutes later.

Belrose looked to be working their way on top when winger Charles Buttrose finished a right side spread 10 minutes later for the Eagles’ second try and a 10-6 lead after Andy Layton converted.

Answering the Eagles’ SOS call to come out of retirement, former US Tomahawks hooker Dave Marando slotted in at halfback from the interchange bench to sena a pin point cross kick on the chest of winger Anthony Raheb for his first try four minutes later and a 14-6 lead.

Not to be denied, the Rams came back hard late in the half. First, backrower Jack Gibbons dropped the final pass in goal down the left for the second ‘bombed’ Rams opportunity.

Then four minutes from the break Lopeti Mafi made the bust up the middle before sending an inside pass that looked blatantly forward to Matthews who streaked the last 40 metres to score amidst a howl of protests to referee Cameron Paddy about the last pass.  Matthews converted for 14-12.

Then on the restart set and a marker penalty, opposite winger Thomas Harvey finished off a clever left switch by Rams five eighth Ben Cassell to dive over and score in the corner.  Matthews converted from touch as the half time siren sounded to give the Rams an 18-14 lead at the break.

A turnover from the kick off to the second half gave Belrose position for Marando to lay on a grubber kick for Raheb to get his second try and level scores at 18-all.

Again the Rams fought back when centre Soane Matavesi finished off a left side spread 10 minutes into the second half to score.  Matthews conversion gave Moorebank a 24-18 lead.

The turning point came with 20 minutes left when Moorebank second rower Jack Gordon burst clear down the right on a 65 metre dash off a Zac Hetherington pass.

Gordon then ignored both Hetherington and Matthews in support and took on Belrose fullback Christian Bate near the Belrose goal line.  Bate not only made the covering tackle, but jolted the ball loose to complete Moorebank’s third and final ‘bombed’ try opportunity.

From the ensuing scrum and offside penalty, Belrose worked down field for Marando to lay on another grubber kick in goal for Tweedie to win the race to the ball for his second try.  Back up goalkicker Shem Grieve converted to level scores again at 24-all.

10 minutes from the end, Belrose prop Billy Valu burst through up the middle to send Bate away for his 14th try of the season under the posts – keeping the fullback’s position as the Shield’s leading try scorer.  Grieve converted for a 30-24 lead.

Shortly after Layton missed a long range penalty attempt, Belrose backrower Jessie Offen broke clear down the right with seven minutes left and galloped away to score in the corner to give the Eagles match winning breathing space at 34-24.

After Grieve missed another long range penalty attempt with five minutes left, Matavesi scored his second try through three defenders to give the Rams some hope with under two minutes left. 

However, Matthews missed the conversion and Moorebank made one last turnover with their last possession of the match to allow Belrose to run down the clock with relief for their 34-28 win.

The wins by Blacktown and Belrose saw both sides maintain their places in seventh and eighth place respectively on the Shield table on 16 points – kicking clear of Cabramatta on 14 points.

Asquith cling to 4th spot after their costly defeat on percentage – just ahead of East Campbelltown who are alwo on 20 points.  Moorebank are still on the bottom of the table with their six points.

Full rounds are scheduled in both the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield this weekend after the Ron Massey Cup Representative team’s maiden win over the Queensland Rangers in the annual fixture last Sunday (see story here).

There is one match on Saturday and three games on Sunday in the Massey Cup – with the top of the table clash between St Marys and the Hills District Bulls at Crestwood Reserve the clear stand out match of the round.

Meanwhile in the Sydney Shield, there are two games on Saturday and four games set down for Sunday.  The Mounties match with Belrose on Saturday at Lionel Watts Reserve and the Asquith clash with Wentworthville at Storey Park on Sunday in the all Magpies ‘battle of the birds’ are the pick of the Shield fixtures.