A try from Wentworthville prop Inoke Vunipola and conversion from half Brendon Newton five minutes from full time gave Wentworthville a drama charged 34-32 win over a gallant 12 man Mounties outfit in a controversial Sydney Shield match of the round at Ringrose Park last Sunday.
In another Shield round that an abundance of both tries and points, the Top Four clash between the traditional second tier powerhouses provided the greatest fireworks.
Wenty came out on fire with early tries hooker Ayden Carling in the eighth minute and Newton in the 12th minute to give the Magpies an early 10-nil lead.
Dylan Izzard – finding himself in the Sydney Shield after playing in both Intrust Super Premiership and Ron Massey Cup earlier in the year – crossed for the Mulga’s first try in the 16th minute as both sides went try for try for the rest of the half.
Wenty lock Tom Field scored to again extend the Magpies lead to 16-6, before Mounties centre Iljia Cotric scored 10 minutes from half time on what became an eventful afternoon personally for the Mulga outside back to bridge the gap back to 16-10.
Magpies fullback Braydon Walsh scored four minutes from half time to extend the Wenty lead to 22-10 with Newton’s conversion, before the match exploded in the shadows of half time.
A late tackle on Newton in back play sparked an all-in brawl, which resulted in Cotric – the older brother of promising Canberra Raiders NRL winger Nick – being sensationally sent off by referee Phil Sung on the report of touch judge Lyndsay Packer for allegedly kicking a Wentworthville player during the brawl in a bitter end to the first half.
Reduced to 12 men for the entire second half, the competition leaders started a remarkable comeback with tries to half back Vince Ripepi and former Gold Coast NRL winger Leva Li two minutes later.
Maltese international Jye Ellul converted both tries to level scores at 22-all to set up a remarkable second half.
Wenty second rower Nicki Toomata scored midway through the second half to regain the lead for the Magpies, before the Mulga lifted again with their 12 men.
Bench player Shannon Chapman wide out in the 63rd minute, before centre Ben Dooley scored on Mounties’ next attack two minutes later. Ellul converted Dooley’s try to give the Mulga a 32-28 lead against the odds as the match moved into its’ last 10 minutes.
However, just as the Mulga looked like pulling off an heroic win, the extra workload from being a man down took its’ toll in the face of Wenty pressure – and Vubipola crashed over from close range with five minutes left.
Newton converted to give Wenty a 34-32 lead that they held on to in the closing stages to secure their dramatic win.
St Marys – with star Ron Massey Cup half Adrian Davis playing at hooker – joined Mounties at the top of the Shield table when they came away the second half to beat Guildford Owls 36-12 in the other feature match of the round at St Marys Leagues Stadium last Saturday.
When Nick Betar got the opening try in the seventh minute in the corner, it appeared to be business as usual for the Saints.
However, the match became a battle through the middle for the rest of the firsthalf – with Davis slotting a penalty goal in the 23rd minute for an 8-nil lead before Guildford bench forward Takai Moeakiola scored late in the first half for the gap to be narrowed to 8-6 at the break after Todd Sapienza converted.
The Saints again started well in the second half with early tries to Thomson Tuigamala and Fuimanu Enese to open up a 20-6 lead with Davis converting both tries.
Guildford hooker Tyrone Shelley burrowed over from dummy half midway through the second half to keep the Owls in touch at 20-12 when Sapienza converted, but that was as close as the visitors got.
Centre Alan Eisenhuth scored the critical try with 14 minutes left, before Davis scored with eight minutes to play to make sure of the St Marys win at 30-12.
Saints Five eighth Aiden Glanville slotted another late penalty goal before Shannon Harris put the icing on the Saints’ cake with a try three minutes from time to close out the 36-12 result.
The Asquith Magpies secured their place in the Top Four for now with a 62-12 thrashing of the Hills District Bulls at Storey Park last Sunday.
From the time stand in half Shae Jarvis finished a right side break and centering kick by winger Alex Nicholls-O’Neill to score in the fourth minute, Asquith were always in control against a Bulls side that had five players drop back from their Ron Massey Cup team (on their bye) to strengthen numbers,
Nicholls-O’Neill helped himself to his first two tries down the right flank, before fullback Jake Pickering sliced through the defence to score his first try in the 20th minutes.
The flying Nicholls-O’Neill completed his hat trick for a 26-nil lead after just 25 minutes – a lead that Asquith took to the half time break despite a on field melee that broke out late in the first stanza.
Former Magpie Lochlan Piper burst over for a quick double on his return to Storey Park inside the first five minutes of the second half to give the Bulls hope of a miracle comeback at 26-12 after Jayden Horo converted both tries.
Indeed, the Bulls had a chance to make things interesting when a grubber kick in goal was ruled to have just gone over the dead ball line on the Bulls’ next attack three minutes later – just before being batted back in field by the oncoming chasers for what would have been another Bulls try.
However, from the 20 metre tap and seven tackle set that followed, Jarvis finished off another sweeping attack to score his second try under the posts to kill any Bulls comeback off at 32-12 after he converted himself.
From there, the match became a procession as Asquith’s attack went into overdrive in the last 20 minutes – with Nicholls-O‘Neill scoring his fourth try with 23 minutes left to start the late scoring spree.
Pickering joined in the try scoring party with the next three tries in eleven minutes to not only join Nicholls-O’Neill on four tries for the day – but join the winger on 20 tries for the season to shoot to the joint top of the Shield scoring charts.
Jarvis then completed his hat trick with the last try of the match after the final siren to complete the 62-12 rout – and finish with a personal tally of 18 points having landed three early conversions.
With classy former schoolboy and star Trent Jennings making a triumphant return after over a year out of the game due to injury, the Cabramatta Two Blues consolidated their place in the Top Eight with a hard fought 28-16 win over Belrose in the match at Lionel Watts Reserve last Sunday.
Belrose started well when prop Jake Morrison barged over for his first try in the seventh minute to give the Eagles an early 4-nil lead.
However, the Two Blues – with centre Sione Kaivelata and bench players Zac Wedesweiler and Rayne Horrigan ‘buttering up’ for their second game of the weekend after playing off the bench in Cabramatta’s Massey Cup win over Concord-Burwood-Glebe on Saturday – slowly ground their way back into the match.
Second rower Dan Dewildt got Cabra’s first try in the 20th minute, before five eighth Jay Belgrove scored 10 minutes later and bench player Jean-Luc Knox finished off good lead up work to score five minutes from half time to give the visitors an 18-4 lead at the break.
Belrose – down on numbers with only three fresh reserves at kick off before suffering two injuries to be down to a 14 man rotation early in the second half – then mounted their comeback in what became a second half arm wrestle.
Morrison scored a second barging try 18 minutes into the second half, before hooker Maverick Tweedie burrowed over four minutes later to set up a grandstand finish at 18-16 after Shem Grieve converted both tries.
Cabramatta then steadied in the closing stages after Belrose could not take their chances in the next 10 minutes. Jennings showed his break from the game had not dulled his class when he sent winger Nephi Kapinga away for the game breaking try with five minutes left.
Kaivelata then snaffled an intercept in the final minute and dashed 55 metres to score the last try to finish the 28-16 win with Brendan Cox’s fourth conversion.
East Campbelltown kept their hopes of a Top Four finish alive with a 40-26 win over Western Suburbs in the Benny Stevens Memorial Cup match at Waminda Oval last Sunday.
As the normally emotional occasion had feelings ramped up further in being the Eagles’ first home game since the tragic passing of Wayde Dunley, the opening 10 minutes were nervous from both sides.
Grant Lahey got the opening try for the Eagles in the 12th minute when he picked out a Chris Standing cross field kick to score. The Eagles then doubled their lead to 12-nil when prop Fred Tevaga crashed over from close range on the home side’s next attack for Ben Baker to convert.
The emotion of the occasion saw both sides have a player sin binned by referee Brad Keihne over the next five minutes – Wests’ Daneil Petralia for dissent closely followed by Baker for a professional foul.
Tevaga charged over for his second try in the 26th minute whilst both players were in the bin for an 18-nil lead with Standing adding the extras from Baker’s absence in the bin.
After both binned player returned, Wests were able to get on the board with four minutes left in the half when Jerome Mose finished off a Charlton Schaafhausen break to score and have Wests trailing 18-4 at oranges.
Wests started a second half comeback when fullback Mason Farrell burst over from dummy half to score just three minutes into the second stanza to get the score ack to 18-8, before winger Sam Aiga scored in similar fashion from 15 metres out on the Magpies next attack.
When Farrell scored another neat solo try 14 minutes into the second half, Kesey Coakes’ conversion gave Wests – also boosted by players dropping back from being on a Massey Cup bye – the lead for the first time at 20-18.
East Campbelltown then hit back from a Wests turnover when centre Fusi Toutai scored his first try with 20 minutes left, before Baker finished off a bust by Amanono Tovio from the restart to post his 15 try of the season and a 30-20 lead.
However Wests kept coming, and Farrell completed his hat trick from an Eagles turnover to set up a big finish three minutes later at 30-26, before another Tovio break sent Toutai away for his double with 10 minutes left to put the Eagles back in control at 34-26.
Eagles skipper John Da Silva ground over from dummy half in the last minutes to finally secure the final 40-26 result with one last Baker conversion.
Finally, Moorebank – last with 11 straight losses at the half way mark of the year – climbed off the bottom of the ladder with a 50-32 win over Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Laybutt Fields last Sunday.
In a match where defence was not the order of the day at times in the warm conditions, Rams prop Ofa Finau scored the first of the game’s 15 tries in the ninth minute.
Fullback Bilal Maarbani and second rower Dave Nurthen got replying tries to give Blacktwon the lead by the 20th minute.
The Rams returned the favour when winger Mutu Stanley scored his first try in the corner in the 22nd minute, and half Kieran Hayman his first try three minutes later to regain the lead for the visitors.
The lead changed hands twice more before half time – with Blacktown winger Charbel Anjoul scoring wide out Luke Chalkley to converte, before Stanley got his second try on the stroke of half time to give Moorebank at 22-18 lead at the break with Hayman’s third successful conversion.
When Hayman completed his double from the start of the second half, and winger Reuben Taylor scored eight minutes later, the Rams appeared to be drawing away with a 34-18 lead.
The Workers Sea Eagles came back with a try to wide running centre Cameron Davis, before the Rams broke the back of the contest with bench forward Shane Fuataga crossing for his try and Stanley completing his hat trick with 20 minutes left – giving Moorebank a commanding 44-22 lead.
Blacktown centre Bill Benjamin scored wide out with 15 minutes left to give the Workers Sea Eagles one last faint hope at 44-28, before Moorebank lock Lopeti Mafi secured the Rams’ third win of the Shield season with 10 minutes left – Corey Matthews’s conversion bringing up the Rams’ 50 points tally.
Blacktown winger Peter Scanlan got one last consolation try in the last minute to close out the 50-32 Moorebank result.
St Marys joined Mounties on 36 points at the top of the table after the weekend – with Mounties on top of superior for and against percentages. Wentworthville (34) and Asquith (30) round out the Top Four – with a four point gap to Guildford and East Campbelltown (both on 26 points).
Cabramatta move up to seventh spot on 22 points, with Belrose clinging to eighth spot on 20 points, just ahead of Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles on 18. Moorebank’s win sees them uip to 14 points in 10th ahead of the disappointing Bulls (also 14) on percentages, with Wests dropping back to the bottom of the ladder for the first time since Round Two on 12 points.
This weekend sees another full round of matches with two matches on Saturday and four games on Sunday – the pick of the round being the Cabramatta match with Wentworthville at New Era Stadium on Saturday, and the Asquith clash with East Campbelltown at Storey Park on Sunday.