The St Marys Saints again showed why they are short priced Ron Massey Cup favourites when they disposed of the Hills District Bulls 40-6 in the top of the table clash at Crestwood Reserve last Sunday.
The Saints shrugged off the loss of Mason Cerutto, Maika Sivo and Soni Luke to the Penrith Intrust Super Premiership squad and Adrian Davis to suspension as they wore down the second placed Bulls in the last 20 minutes to stay on top of the Cup table.
Each incoming Sydney Shield player made a contribution for the Saints. Incoming winger Ratu Tuisese opened the scoring in the 14th minute before replacement second rower Aiden Glanvilles – the regular Sydney Shield five eighth – extended the lead with his try 10 minutes from half time.
Tuisese completed his double on the stroke of half time to give the Saints a handy 18-nil lead at the break after Glanville landed his third straight conversion.
Wide running Bulls backrower Dave Baumann got the Bulls back into the match with his try five minutes into the second half to bring the scores back to 18-6 with Chad O’Donnell’s conversion.
The match became an arm wrestle for the next 20 minutes where both sides had missed opportunites before Saints interchange prop Cowen Epere got the vital try with 15 minutes left. Saints backrower Joe Vaegaau then scored on the next Saints set from the restart to guarantee the visitors the two competition points.
Incoming fullback Andy Oughtred scored with five minutes left to give Glanville his sixth straight conversion, before co-captain Geoff Daniela scored the last try of the match in the final minute to round off the Saints’ victory.
A try with three minutes left from Massey Cup representative centre James Gammidge ensured that the Wentworthville Magpies joined the Saints at the top of the table with a heartstopping 28-24 win over the Auburn Warriors at Ringrose Park last Saturday.
In a match brought forward by both clubs from Round 20 while they also had scheduled byes, the Magpies took the early advantage when makeshift fullback Jake Butfield opened the scoring in the 16th minute.
Winger Danny Barakat followed up with his try on the Magpies next attacking set three minutes later, before makeshift second rower Blake Cook scored his try six minutes from half time to give the Magpies a handy 14-nil lead with Jake Walsh’s conversion.
The Warriors started their comeback when bench player Rabi El-Zbaidieh scored in the shadows of half time to bring the Wenty lead back to 14-6 at the break after Manaia Rudolph converted.
Rudolph scored a superb try in the first set of the second half to set up the match for a thrilling second half at 14-12 with his conversion.
Wenty replied when fellow makeshift second rower Rhys Armstrong scored wide out eight minutes into the second half, before the Warriors had their best period of the match.
Auburn bench player Visi Setefano scored 14 minutes into the through the second half to level scores, before evergreen lock Adrian Ha’angana crashed over from close range 10 minutes later to give Auburn the lead for the first time at 24-18 when Rudolph converted.
Wenty came back again - from a Warriors turnover on their first set from the restart - when prop Kurt De Luis barged over wide out. Jake Walsh converted to lock the game up at 24-all.
Both sides turned down or missed field goal shots in the closing stages before a switch of play with three minutes left saw Gammidge scramble over to score the winning try wide out.
Wenty then held on for the last set of the match to secure four competition points – two for the win and their scheduled bye.
The Warriors had to be content with just the two points from their scheduled bye to move into the Massey Cup Top Eight.
Cabramatta kept their finals hopes alive when they toppled the Western Suburbs Magpies 36-22 in a minor upset at New Era Stadium last Saturday Night – sending the Magpies out of the Cup’s Top Eight.
Wests started well when Tom Capper scored the first try from a Mason Farrell pass in the seventh minute, before Two Blues centre Isaac Montgomery got his first try for the home side 14 minutes later after good work down the Two Blues’ left.
Magpies five eighth Blake Goodman scored a neat try on the next play from a Wests kick return in the 27th minute, before Cabramattas’ Massey Cup representative fullback Don Thompson scored from dummy half seven minutes from half time to have the Two Blues in touch at only 10-8 down at the break.
Thompson then became provider just three minutes into the second half when he laid on a grubber kick for Jay Belgrove to win the race to the ball and score before crossing the dead ball line. Thompson’s conversion extended the lead to eight points.
This try started a wave of Cabramatta scoring that decided the match.
The turning point came on the next set from the restart when a sweeping movement saw Montgomery score his second try while the Wests defence stopped waiting for a call that never came from referee Phil Sung for a knock on in the lead up.
Cabramatta scored again from the next restart set when Tenisio Ahovelo ran back on a good angle for the Two Blues’ third try in six minutes to blow the Two Blues’ lead out to 26-10 when Thompson converted.
The Magpies tried to mount a comeback when Daniel Petralia fed off a pass from a Luke Williams break to score under the posts in the 57th minute to get Wests back within 10 points, but an intercept saw Cabramatta centre Tyla Tamou seal the win for the Two Blues with 15 minutes to play.
Montgomery completed his hat trick with 10 minutes left to the icing on the Cabramatta cake, before a Brendan Waters pass sent Christian Yassmin clear for Tala Mapesone to score Wests’ consolation try with six minutes left.
Concord-Burwood-Glebe shrugged off the suspension of their head coach Nyke Aaron Zammit - and a three man reserves bench - when they upset double defending premiers Mounties 34-28 in the match at Goddard Park, Burwood last Sunday.
With assistants Charbel Achmar and Mick Habib in charge, the Wolves set down their stall early when makeshift hooker Scott Williams scored in the second minute to give the home side an early lead, before Mounties winger Alofi Mataele replied with his try in the corner for the Mulga in the 15th minute.
The home side then made the most of their limited opportunities in attack by scoring score three more tries before half time.
Centre Ray Lesoa scored the first of the three Wolves’ tries in the 18th minute, before stand in fullback Latrell Schamkel finished off another attack to score his first try on the Wolves’ next attacking set three minutes later to set up a 16-4 lead.
Mounties backrower Willie Mataka got his first try for the Mulga from a turnover from the restart to get the visitors back to within six points in the 24th minute, before bench forward Nathan Leatigaga got a critical converted try for the home side seven minutes from half time to give the Wolves a 22-10 lead at the break with Kurt Aldridge’s conversion.
The match became an arm wrestle in the middle until referee Darian Furner reduced the Wolves to 12 men with a sin binning midway through the second half.
The Mulga launched their comeback with their numerical advantage – with bench utility half Brad Speechley and former Blacktown Workers five eighth Henry Raiwalui scoring converted tries whilst the Wolves were down to 12 men to lock up the scores at 22-all.
The Wolves again steadied when numbers were restored to a full 13 on 13 contest with Joe Rokoqo scoring the game breaking try with 10 minutes to play, which Aldridge converted to send the Wolves back to a six point lead.
Aldridge then landed a penalty goal to give the Wolves an eight point cushion, before Schaumkel sealed the win with his second try on the next set in attack with six minutes left.
Mataka got his second try with three minutes left to give the Mulga a late chance of a miracle draw, but the Wolves held on in the closing stages to close out a vital win.
Finally, a Ben Fritz try with five minutes left ensured the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles pulled off a ‘miracle’ come from behind 32-30 win over the Guildford Owls at Laybutt Fields, Blacktown last Sunday.
After Kelepi Manu scored the opening try for brother Amanaki to convert in the fifth minute for an early Blacktown lead, the Owls attack cut loose to put the Workers Sea Eagles to the sword for the next 30 minutes.
Centre Josh Camroux scored the Owls’ first try in the 17th minute, before prop Eden Syme barged over from close range, fullback Jayden Wheelhouse finished off Guildford pressure to score.
Half Lazarus Brown then bagged up a double to give the Owls five tries in 17 minutes, and a see to give a seemingly match winning lead at 30-6 with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Blacktown started their comeback when centre James Tuitahi scored wide out on the stroke of half time to have Guildford leading 30-10 at the break.
Kelepi Manu completed his double five minutes into the second half to continue the comeback, before interchange prop Brandon Luamanu burst over to give Blacktown a sniff at only 30-20 down with only 10 minutes played in the second half.
Both sides had chances as the second half wore on until returning interchange back Marli Sini got a try in his comeback match from injury to set up a grandstand finish at 30-26 with 20 minutes left.
As the match entered its’ closing stages, Guildford were desperately hanging on in defence as they began to tire in the closing stages – and finally cracked for Fritz’s winning try with five minutes left.
Kelepi Manu converted to give Blacktown the lead for the first time since the opening try – and in turn held on themselves for their miracle win in the face of one last attack from Guildford before full time.
St Marys and Wentworthville are now joint leaders on 30 points on the Cup table, with the Bulls four points adrift in third spot on 26, and Mounties back on 22 in fourth.
The Warriors moved into the Top Eight with their bye on 16 points, ahead of Wests on 15 and Cabramatta still last on 14 points but now with a real chance of making the playoffs.
This weekend sees only three games scheduled as part of another reduced round.
Cabramatta take on St Marys in Saturday’s match at New Era Stadium; while on Sunday Hills District Bulls play Auburn Warriors at Crestwood Reserve, and Guildford play Blacktown Workers in a critical postponed Round 4 game at McCredie Park.