The Hills District Bulls staged a barnstorming second-half comeback to pip defending Ron Massey Cup Premiers Wentworthville Magpies 24-22 in an exciting season opener at Crestwood Reserve, Baulkham Hills last Sunday.
The Magpies began the local derby under new coach Brett Cook strongly in hot conditions – with wingers Eli Roberts and Eparama Navale scoring the opening tries of the match to give “Wenty” an early lead.
Interchange Zac Nicholls then extended the Magpies’ lead with his try four minutes from the break. Beau Henry’s second conversion gave the visitors a handy 16-nil lead at the break.
However, the Bulls lifted after half-time with tries to fullback Tom Perrin and centre Tim Christie to get the home side back in the game. Perrin’s second try gave the Bulls the lead for the first time midway through the second half.
The Bulls looked home when Sean Walpole scored half Nick Holliday to convert for a 24-16 lead, before Roberts scored his second try to set up a thrilling finish. The Bulls then held on in the closing stages to secure their victory.
The Glebe-Burwood Wolves got their year off to a winning start when they overcame the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 26-12 at Laybutt Fields, Blacktown last Sunday.
The home side dominated the first 20 minutes of the match - with tries to Peter Schuster and Leva Li giving Blacktown an early 8-nil lead before Wolves winger Charlton Schaafhausen snared an intercept and dashed 40 metres to score to cut the deficit back to 8-6 at halftime.
Glebe-Burwood centre Royce Tout scored to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the 52nd minute, before Schuster’s second try locked up the scores as 12-all to set up a tense final 20 minutes.
The Wolves then powered home on the back of a superb 35-metre solo effort by Schaafhasuen for his second try which followed a barging try to prop Eddie Faalua from a turnover to give the Wolves the lead.
Glebe-Burwood then ran down the clock superbly in the closing stages – with half Jesse Marschke landing a penalty goal after the full-time siren to seal the two competition points.
St Marys began their season with a grinding 22-14 win over fellow competition heavyweights Mounties at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Saturday night.
After new recruit Lazarus Brown opened the scoring for the Saints with the game’s opening try in the third minute, the Mulga replied with winger Alofi Mataele’s first try 10 minutes later.
The Saints then got on top late in the first half with tries to lock Dylan Fuad and a second to Brown to jump out to an 18-4 lead before Mataele’s second try in the shadows of half-time got the Mulga back to being 18-8 down at the break.
Mounties prop Josh Saunders-Jones burst over seven minutes into the second half to reduce the Saints’ lead to 18-14 with Maurice Kennedy’s conversion, before the Saints got the critical try when back-rower Sarafu Fatiaki scored with 19 minutes left. Former Bulls half Chad O’Donnell converted to give St Marys their match-winning 22-14 lead – which they held to the final whistle.
A 75th-minute penalty goal from evergreen Western Suburbs half Brendan Waters forced a 24-all draw with the Asquith Magpies in the ‘battle of the birds’ to open the season at Waminda Oval, East Campbelltown last Saturday.
With the temperature climbing to the low 30s, Wests got off to the perfect start when fullback Kelsey Coakes scored in the opening minute.
Asquith – returning to the Massey Cup after a year’s absence with a new look side under former Blacktown Workers ISP coach Pat Wiesner – then struck back with tries to wingers Asher and Amanaki Veamatahau to take the lead.
Amanaki scored a second try mid-way through the half, before Wests regained the lead late in the frirst stanza with tries to winger Peter Pakoti and centre Josh Davis to give the home side a 16-12 lead at the break.
Pakoti’s second try extended the Wests lead to 22-12 with Waters’ third conversion, before Asquith came back a second time when hooker Jake Attard burrowed over from close range.
Amanaki Veamatahau then completed his hat-trick for former Mounties backrower Kurt Horton to convert to give Asquith a stunning 24-22 lead with 12 minutes left.
Wests then worked play forward for Waters’ decisive penalty goal to level scores, with both sides not being able to nail late field-goal attempts to complete the season’s first draw.
Finally, newcomers Penrith Brothers had a tough opening to the Massey Cup as Cabramatta thrashed them 58-0 at New Era Stadium last Saturday Night.
Cabramatta got early tries to Brent Anderson and Tom Harris to lead 10-nil after just eight minutes – and didn’t let up for the rest of the night.
Winger Falakiki Manu got a first-half double before Kenny Niko and Jake Butfield got tries to give the Two Blues a 34-nil lead at the break. Interchange player Michael Morgan got a second-half double, with further tries to D’hrys Miller and veteran Don Thompson right on full-time completing the 10-try rout.
Guildford had the opening-round bye – which they used to beat Illawarra side Dapto Canaries 36-34 to start the NSWRL Challenge Cup series.
Round 2 sees two matches on Saturday and three games on Sunday this weekend – with the Asquith clash with St Marys at Storey Park and the Bulls meeting with Mounties at Crestwood Reserve on Sunday the pick of the round.
Tony and HHH FM cover the Ron Massey Cup and the Sydney Shield each weekend – this weekend they are at Storey Park on Sunday for the Asquith v St Marys games from 1pm (Sydney Shield) and 3pm (Ron Massey Cup on 100.1FM or at www.triplehfm.com.au