Mounties returned to their best Intrust Super Premiership NSW form with a thumping 51-10 thrashing of competition leaders Wyong Roos in the match at Morry Breen Oval this afternoon.
In a combination of good execution by the 2016 grand finalists and easily the worst performance by the Roos this season, the Mulga stormed to a nine-tries-to-two victory – sounding a warning to the rest of the competition that they are well and truly back in the premiership mix.
The Roos got off to a bright start when lock Nat Butcher finished good lead up work in the fifth minute to burst over for the opening try. Josh Mantellato converted for an early 6-0 Wyong lead.
However, that was as good as it got for the competition leaders for the rest of the match – fumbling their way to an abysmal 33 per cent completion rate of just five of 15 sets for the rest of the first half to invite the Mulga into the contest.
Mounties started their first-half charge on the back of an early Wyong error when second rower Scott Sorenson burst over wide out in the 16th minute for Mounties’ first try. Isaac John converted to level scores at six points apiece.
After the Roos put the restart out on the full, Mounties took full advantage from the immediate penalty set when prop Liam Knight barged over from close range late in the tackle count to score under the posts. John’s conversion gave the visitors a 12-6 lead.
Following a period of play punctuated by more Wyong errors forced by crunching Mulga defence, the visitors went further ahead when winger Kato Ottio broke clear down the right 10 minutes from half-time – before sending a deft centering kick for hooker Glen Buttriss to pick up on the bounce and dash away to score behind the uprights. John converted to extend the Mounties lead to 18-6.
Things got from bad to worse for the Roos at this point when in quick succession they first lost Mantellato to a suspected broken arm when landing heavily after being tackled mid air fielding a cross field bomb, then centre Brendan Frei to a strained hamstring.
This reduced the Roos to a 15-man rotation for the rest of the match.
Mounties extended their lead five minutes from half-time when centre Eddie Aiono swivelled, propped, stepped and then powered through poor Wyong goal-line defence to score the visitors’ fourth first-half try.
John converted Aiono’s try, before nonchalantly slotting a 25-metre field goal as the half-time siren was sounding to give the Mulga a commanding 25-6 lead at the break.
Any hopes of a Wyong miracle were put to bed when bench forward Makahesi Makatoa burst over under the posts from close range on the back of a penalty four minutes into the second half to put Mounties out of sight at 31-6 after John added the extras.
With the visitors now breaking the tiring Wyong defensive line almost at will, the floodgates opened in the second half.
Centre Brent Naden completed a left-side spread eight minutes into the second half to score, before Sorenson completed his double when he finished off another left side raid 10 minutes later for a 41-6 lead.
Wyong fullback Luke Sharpe completed a neat chip and chase for a try to at least get the Roos into double figures, before quick hands down the Mounties left saw winger Alofi Mataele score with ease with 12 minutes left.
For good measure, Mounties then switched their attack down the right in the closing stages to good effect.
After Kato Ottio was pulled back from scoring by referee Adam Cassidy for a forward pass, the visitors made now mistake on their next right side attack with three minutes left for Ottio to score in the corner.
Stand in goalkicker Sam Duggan nailed the conversion from touch to close out the Mulga’s emphatic 51-10 win.
Mounties will look to take their new found form across the Tasman Sea when they play the Warriors in Auckland next Saturday, while the Roos will try to regain their lost form against the inform Penrith Panthers at Morry Breen Oval – also next Saturday.
Mounties 51 (S Sorensen 2, L Knight, G Buttriss, E Aiono, M Makatoa, B Naden, A Mataele, K Ottio tries; I John 6, S Duggan goals; I John field goal) def Wyong Roos 10 (N Butcher, L Sharpe tries; J Mantellato goal)