The Belrose Eagles commenced their Sydney Shield season with a convincing 24-16 win over the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in oppressive heat at Laybutt Fields, Blacktown last Sunday.
With temperatures hovering around the 30-degree mark for most of the match, Blacktown got off to a great start when winger Tom Menzies got the opening try in the fifth minute.
Belrose then struck back hard with the next four tries and 20 points unanswered – starting with a barging try from experienced forward Adrian Ha’angana in his first match in Belrose colours in the 22nd minute.
Winger James Morgan got his first try three minutes later, bench player Nick Bilsborough scored just before half-time for a 16-4 lead, and Morgan completed a double early in the second half for a 20-4 lead to the visitors.
Skippy Lipano got a try back for Blacktown to pull the deficit back to 20-10, before young centre Beau Abrahams gave Tim Gee’s men a match-winning 24-10 lead with his try midway through the second half.
Belrose’s defence then held on well enough in the last 20 minutes – with Blacktown prop Anson Naati crashing over to give the home side some hope with five minutes left without threatening the Eagles’ lead.
The Asquith Magpies scored a thrilling 28-26 win over East Campbelltown at Waminda Oval last Saturday in the competition’s opening match.
After East Campbelltown centre Theo Leato got the opening try, Asquith replied with a first try for the year to flyer Alex Nicholls-O’Neill before the home side got on top midway through the opening stanza.
Tries to winger Daniel Muir and returning ‘prodigal son’ in former Wests Tiger and Wests Magpie Shannon Gallant gave the home side a 16-8 half-time lead – with Jeremy Marshall’s first try keeping the Magpies in the contest late in the half.
Asquith stormed back in the second half with tries to new five-eighth Gibson Popoali’I and a second to Marshall to give the visitors the lead for the first time at 18-16.
The match then see sawed in the hot conditions for the rest of the match – Sam Tramontana’s try for the Eagles was matched by Nicholls-O’Neill’s second for Asquith, before Feao Lavemai extended the Asquith lead to 28-22 with under 10 minutes left.
Muir’s second try in the corner gave East Campbelltown a chance at a draw with three minutes left – but the conversion from touch went wide and Asquith held on from the last Eagles attack in the dying stages to secure their win.
The rest of the opening round saw handsome wins.
Cabramatta gave competition newcomers Penrith Brothers a harsh opening lesson on the Sydney Shield standard with a 38-10 win at New Era Stadium last Saturday.
After Auzzie Tewanghai got the opening try in the first minute for the Two Blues, Brothers came back when hooker PJ Tevaga got the club’s historic first ever try at senior NSWRL level eight minutes later.
Cabra winger Lachlan Hughes got his first try from a Brothers turnover in the 12th minute, before the brethren held their own for the rest of the half – culminating with five-eighth Jordan Arendse scoring on the stroke of half-time to keep the visitors in touch at only 12-10 down at the break.
Cabramatta then flexed their muscle in the second half – with Hughes’ second try at the start of the second half opening the floodgates to a 26-nil, five try second half.
Hughes completed his hat-trick, with five-eighth Liam O’Brien bagging a second-half double and half Kyle McLean scoring the other four-pointer in the second stanza for the Two Blues as they came away to win comfortably.
The Wentworthville Magpies easily disposed of the Hills District Bulls 44-12 in the match played at Crestwood Reserve last Sunday.
The Magpies held their own in the early arm wrestle before taking command with tries to Adam Spicer, Dayne Vette-Welsh and Ayden Carling sent “Wenty” out to an 18-nil lead after 20 minutes.
Magpies centre Dane Francis scored his first try 10 minutes from half-time to give the visitors a 24-nil lead at the break – which was then extended when winger Braydon Rumble scored in the corner for a 28-nil lead in the opening set of the second half.
Bulls winger Brandon Janjic finally got the home side on the board with his try 15 minutes into the second half, before the Magpies went on with the job with further tries to Solomone Lasalo, Brendon Newton and a double to Francis blowing the Wenty lead out to 44-6 inside the last 10 minutes.
Bulls hooker John Dunn got a late consolation try to get the home side into double figures.
Finally, defending Shield Premiers St Marys overpowered a gallant Moorebank Rams 34-10 at Hammondville Oval last Sunday to start their title defence.
The Saints had to work hard in the first half after centre Tom Lofts and hooker Meni Luke scored inside the first 20 minutes to give the Saints an early 12-0 lead.
The Rams came back with a try to nippy half Nikau Williams to bring the home side back to 12-6, before Saints winger scored the first of his two tries either side of half time to give the visitors an 18-6 lead at the break.
Tuliatu’s second try was the back breaker straight after the interval, with Jesse Abbott’s try virtually sealing the win for the defending premiers at 28-6 midway through the second half.
Centre Malachi Morgan gave the Rams some hope with his try with 15 minutes left, before Robbie Graham made sure of the two competition points for the Saints with his try inside the last 10 minutes.
Guildford enjoyed the opening-round bye.
Round 2 sees two matches on Saturday and three matches on Sunday, with the 2017 Preliminary Final re-match between Asquith and St Marys on Sunday at Storey Park the pick of the action.
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