Eagles Soar Over Saints
The East Campbelltown Eagles gave notice that they are again Sydney Shield contenders with a superb 25-16 win over defending premiers St Marys in the feature match of the round at St Marys Leagues Stadium last Saturday.
Former Wests Tigers fullback Shannon Gallant set the Eagles on their way with his first try in the 11th minute, before Saints winger John Tuliatu replied with his try four minutes later to level the scores.
Eagles second-rower Grant Lahey regained the lead for the Eagles with his try 10 minutes from half-time, before half Sean Connor potted a neat field goal on the stroke of half-time to give East Campbelltown a 13-6 lead.
After both sides got into the arm-wrestle for the first 20 minutes of the second half, the Saints looked to be on top when back-to-back tries in the space of three minutes from interchange forward Alex Myles and winger Ben Ernest gave the Premiers a 16-13 lead with 17 minutes to play.
Gallant scored a brilliant second try to regain the lead for the Eagles with 10 minutes left, before East Campbelltown's other second-rower, Brett Lahey, scored the match-winning try three minutes later – ending the Saints' unbeaten start to the season.
Magpies Swoop on Owls
Asquith Magpies moved into second spot on the Sydney Shield table at the Saints' expense, with an incident-packed 34-30 win over the Guildford Owls in their match at McCredie Park.
The Magpies got off to a flyer with early tries to diminutive half Kyle Tukapua and fullback Ngangarra Barker to give Asquith a 10-0 lead after just eight minutes on the clock.
The Owls then responded just as quickly when hooker Alec Bush bagged two tries in three minutes to level scores at 10-10 after 18 minutes – setting the stage for the open, try-for-try contest that followed.
Further Owls tries from bench player John Leapai and winger Shane Hunt late in the first half gave the Owls a handy 20-10 lead at the break.
These were then matched by replying tries straight after half-time from Jayden Griffin and winger Jale Seninawanana for the Magpies to again lock up scores at 20-20 – before the match's flash point in the 50th minute.
As Tukapua scored his second try to regain the lead for Asquith, referee Nathan Loveday ruled that the Magpies half was fouled in the act of scoring the try. Loveday then had no hesitation in awarding an extra penalty kick at goal for Gibson Popoali'i in a possible eight-point try.
Popoali'I landed the penalty to give Asquith an eight-point lead.
Guildford overcame the eight-point try with another comeback midway through the second half – this time with tries from five-eighth Nathan Masima and winger Josh Delailoa to regain the lead with 10 minutes left.
Asquith then raised one final effort which led to Magpies five-eighth Corey Browne-Higginbotham scoring what turned out to be the match-winning try with six minutes remaining.
Bush's day ended sourly when he was sin-binned in the final minute by referee Loveday, with Asquith hooker Treymaine Brown landing the resultant penalty goal to close out the Magpies' 34-30 win.
Cabramatta put away Blacktown at Home
Cabramatta moved back into the Sydney Shield top eight with a convincing 36-18 win over Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in their match at New Era Stadium.
The Two Blues exploded out of the blocks when centre Jamon Wormleaton scored in the opening set of the match, and half Liam O'Brien scored from the next set from the restart to give the home side a 10-0 lead after just four minutes.
Blacktown steadied with a replying try from half Jackson Whitby in the 20th minute, which he duly converted to pull scores back to 10-6, before Two Blues prop Tom Grealy crashed over seven minutesfrom half-time to extend the Cabramatta lead to 16-6 at the break.
Hard-running Blacktown second-rower Rhys Sciglitano scored the opening try of the second half to set up a possible Sea Eagles comeback, with scores 16-12 after Whitby's second conversion.
Cabramatta then put the match beyond doubt with three converted tries in eight minutes midway through the second half. Wormleaton completed his double, then bench player Cameron Davis and five-eighth Jayden Yates scored in quick succession to make sure of the two competition points.
Blacktown interchange player Joseph Ma'u scored the last try of the match with 15 minutes left to raise faint hopes or a comeback. O'Brien then slotted a penalty goal in the final minute to close out Cabramatta's 36-18 win – complementing his earlier try and five successful conversions.
Brothers make History with Maiden Win
Last Sunday's other two Sydney Shield games saw both of the bottom two sides on the table pull off upset wins.
First, Penrith Brothers completed an historic first-ever win in a NSWRL competition with a remarkable 30-28 triumph over Moorebank Rams at Hammondville Oval.
The match appeared to be going to the form book as the Rams started the match on fire – with second-rower Jacob Winterstein scoring an early double inside the first eight minutes to give Moorebank a 12-0 lead.
The Rams then looked in total control when winger Alvin Maungaati scored in the 20th minute.
Brothers started their comeback with late first-half tries from five-eighth Brendan Hands and centre Michael Tuavao, to cut the Moorebank lead to 16-12 at the break.
Interchange player Wiki Tuavao then scored eight minutes into the second half to give Penrith an 18-16 lead with Hands' third conversion.
Moorebank then knuckled down to regain the lead with Matt Hanna's try midway through the second half, before a brilliant double in the space of 10 minutes by Brothers centre Ibudoc Solomona turned the match in the visitors' favour.
Solomona's second try seven minutes from full-time sealed an historic first-ever win for the Brothers since joining the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield from the Penrith A Grade competition at the start of the year. A late converted try from Moorebank hooker Brad Nolland was not enough to stop Brothers celebrate a red-letter day for their club at full-time.
L'Estrange, Mateo Earn first Coaching Success
Finally, the Hills District Bulls gave former NRL stars Heath L'Estrange and Feleti Mateo their first wins as senior co-coaches with a stunning 22-18 upset over Belrose at Lionel Watts Reserve last Sunday.
Like the match at Hammondville, it appeared to go to the form book early as Belrose fullback and skipper Richie Goodwin scored the opening try in just the second minute.
Bulls halfback Brock Pelligra and hooker Joel Bradford then turned the match around for the previously-winless Bulls; Pelligra scored an individual try to level scores in the 10th minute, before setting up Bradford for a well-worked try six minutes later to give the visitors a 10-4 lead.
The upset was on when Pelligra and Bradford set up a superb try for centre Liam Walker four minutes from half-time to give the Bulls a 16-4 lead at the break.
Fired up by a paint-peeling spray by coach Tim Gee at half-time, Belrose stormed back into the match with tries from centres Isaac Kassis and Beau Abrahams to cut the Bulls' lead back to 16-12 eight minutes into the second half.
The match then boiled over in the next set from the restart.
Controversial former Sydney Roosters and Manly firebrand Willis Meehan – in his comeback match for Belrose, before a possible future return to Ron Massey Cup with the Glebe-Burwood Wolves – was sin-binned by referee Daniel Luttringer for starting a midfield melee, after an incorrect play-the-ball.
The Bulls took advantage of their extra man when Walker scored his second try in the 57th minute to extend the visitors' lead to 20-12.
Belrose gave themselves one last chance at victory after Meehan returned from the bin, when Abrahams completed his second try with 12 minutes left to pull the lead back to 20-18 when Nick Ferris converted.
The Bulls steadied with a Pelligra penalty goal in the 78th minute and held on in a frantic final 60 seconds – in which Bradford was sin-binned as the final siren sounded – to score their first win for the season.
Wentworthville's bye sees them remain sole unbeaten leaders on 10 points, with Asquith, St Marys and East Campbelltown close behind on eight points. Despite their win, the Bulls are still last on two points.
The Mother's Day round this weekend sees two matches on Saturday and three games on Sunday in Round 6 – with the Moorebank match against Wentworthville at Hammondville on Sunday the pick of the round.
Tony and HHH FM cover the Ron Massey Cup and the Sydney Shield each weekend – with a massive program of coverage this Mother's Day weekend.
First, the team are back at Storey Park on Saturday for the matchups between the Asquith Magpies and Penrith Brothers in the Sydney Shield (2pm) and Ron Massey Cup (4pm) on 100.1FM, or via streaming at www.triplehfm.com.au
Then, the team back up on Sunday with coverage from HE Laybutt Fields, broadcasting the Ron Massey Cup match between Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles and Guildford Owls at 1pm and the Intrust Super Premiership meeting between Blacktown and the Newcastle Knights from 3pm.