WRAP | Sydney Shield Rd 7
Wentworthville Blitz Asquith Late
The Wentworthville Magpies moved to the top of the Sydney Shield table on percentage on Sunday, after storming home to beat Asquith 34-16 in the all-Magpies battle at Ringrose Park.
In a match that was nip and tuck for the first 70 minutes, both sides went try-for-try to set up a possible grandstand finish.
Asquith flyer Alex Nicholls-O'Neill got the visiting Magpies away with the opening try in the fourth minute, only for opposite number Eparama Navale to give Wentworthville a 6-4 lead five minutes later with his first try, converted by Brendon Newton.
Experienced Wentworthville centre-turned-second-rower Dave Sisifa scored out wide in the 22nd minute to extend the home side's lead to 10-4, before Asquith centre Gibson Popoali'I finished off good lead-up play with his try in the shadows of half-time.
PopoaIi'i duly converted his try to lock scores up at 10-10 at the break.
The second half became a duelling arm wrestle as both sides created and could not finish their opportunities.
Wentworthville interchange player Andrew Pritchard scored his try midway through the second half to give the home side a six-point lead with Newton's conversion, before Asquith hooker Evander Waitoa burrowed over with 15 minutes left to level scores a second time at 16-16 after Popoali'I converted.
Wentworthville then broke the game open with Navale's second try with 10 minutes left for a decisive lead.
Centre Jermaine Mati-Leifi then finished off another sustained movement to finally break down the Asquith resistance with five minutes left, before speedy interchange half Troy Black made sure of the Wentworthville win with his try two minutes from time.
Newtown converted all three of the home side's tries in the final 10 minutes to close out the 34-16 scoreline.
East Campbelltown Beat the Blues to Share Lead
The East Campbelltown Eagles joined in a share of the competition lead with a convincing 32-4 disposal of Cabramatta at Waminda Oval on Sunday.
Stand-in hooker Chris Standing scored the opening try for East Campbelltown in the fifth minute, before the match tightened up into a gruelling battle in the first half hour.
Cabramatta centre Auzzie Tuwhangai scored out wide in the 18th minute to pull the visitors back to 6-4, before the home side broke the game open with two quick tries in the last five minutes of the first half.
Interchange forward Jarryd Eggleton scored four minutes from half-time to extend the lead, then powerful second-rower Mason Talolua burst over to score on the siren. Connor converted both tries to give East Campbelltown a comfortable 18-4 half-time lead.
Any hopes of a Cabramatta comeback were blown away by two superb tries from promising 19 year-old Eagles centre Alex Potifara, scored in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Potifara's double strike blew the home side's lead out to 28-4, effectively killing off the game as a contest.
East Campbelltown winger Daniel Muir finished off the easy win with his try 10 minutes from full-time to close out the 32-4 scoreline.
Saints Hold Off Fast-Finishing Bulls
Defending Sydney Shield Premiers St Marys also joined in a share of the competition lead with a hard-fought 30-24 win over a gallant Hills District Bulls outfit at Crestwood Reserve.
Hills District – fired up by rookie co-coaches Heath L'Estrange and Feleti Mateo – came out breathing fire and were rewarded when prop Doug Dean got the opening try for a shock 6-0 lead.
St Marys then stepped up a gear after weathering the storm early, striking back hard with tries to centre Etuate Qionimacawa and lock Alan Nielesa to send the visitors to a 16-12 half-time lead.
St Marys prop Shane Coppins made it a pair of tries for both the visiting props when he crashed over for the first try of the second half, before Hills District fullback Will Butler scored in reply to keep the home side in the game shortly afterwards.
St Marys seemed to be in control when opposite wingers Alan Fitzgibbon and John Tuliatu finished off lead up work on each flank for tries – with Tuliatu's try pushing the visitors out to a 30-18 lead inside the final 10 minutes.
Hills District raised one last effort when interchange player Isaac Gorman scored the last try of the match with two minutes to play. Ekstrom converted to cut the St Marys lead to 30-24 with time almost up.
However, the Bulls could not pull off a long-range attack in the last minute to force a miracle draw, with the defending premiers relieved to take the two competition points and join the competition lead.
Guildford Overcome Slow Start Against Belrose
The Guildford Owls moved to within striking distance of the top four with their 30-22 win over the Belrose Eagles at Lionel Watts Reserve.
Guildford eventually broke the deadlock after a tight, scoreless opening quarter of the match when former La Perouse halfback Rob Longbottom opened the scoring in the 20th minute.
Longbottom then brilliantly nabbed his second try three minutes later to double the Guildford lead to 12-0 with Mason McCarthy's second conversion.
Belrose then steadied and replied when hooker Andy Layton scored from dummy-half 10 minutes from half-time to reduce the Guildford lead to 12-6 at the break.
Guildford looked to have swung control in their favour with a quick brace of tries from interchange player Sam Eisenhuth in the 50th and 55th minutes to blow the visitors' lead out to 24-6.
Then – spurred on by a good-sized local crowd – Belrose launched an almighty comeback with three tries in eight minutes to regain the game's momentum.
Interchange player Tulsa Saumamao (59th minute), centre Beau Abrahams (63rd) and winger James Morgan (67th) scored tries in the comeback. Belrose lock Daniel Martin converted the last two of the comeback tries to get the home side within two points with 12 minutes left.
However, Belrose gave away a critical penalty by not playing the ball correctly after Morgan's try – swinging the pendulum back in Guildford's favour.
The visitors took full advantage with second-rower Tyrone Faulkner scoring from the penalty set out wide with nine minutes to play.
McCarthy landed his fifth conversion from five attempts to give the visitors their match winning 30-22 lead, allowing Guildford to work down the clock in the closing stages and close out their win.
Big Second Half Seals Blacktown Win
Finally, the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles overcame stubborn first-half resistance before coming away in the second half to down Penrith Brothers 36-10 at Hickeys Lane last Sunday.
Brothers started the match off well and were rewarded when second-rower Reece Manning got the opening try in the seventh minute.
Blacktown had to work hard to break the Brothers defence – not breaking through until fullback Peter Scanlan scored the visitors' first try 23 minutes into the contest.
Blacktown eventually got the better of the first-half arm wrestle when centre Lomanu Lufe scored two minutes from half-time to give the visitors their first lead. Jackson Whitby converted to give Blacktown a 10-6 lead at the break.
Spent by their defensive efforts in the first half, Brothers' resistance was dealt a killer blow when Blacktown winger Tom Menzies scored his first try in the opening set of the second half.
Menzies completed his double 12 minutes later, and the floodgates then opened when interchange player Mark Griffiths scored midway through the second stanza.
Brothers prop Hamasolo Alone barged over from close range for a consolation try for the hosts, before Blacktown hooker Jermayne Cook bagged a late double to close out the 36-10 scoreline. Whitby converted both of Cook's late tries.
Moorebank enjoyed the bye.
Wentworthville, East Campbelltown and St Marys share the lead at the top of the Sydney Shield ladder on 12 points each, with Asquith back to fourth spot on 10 points. Hills District Bulls are now anchored at the foot of the table on two points.
Round 8 sees all five games being played on Sunday this weekend – with the East Campbelltown clash against Guildford at Waminda Oval and the Asquith match up against the improving Moorebank Rams at Storey Park two games to look forward to.
Tony and HHH FM cover the Ron Massey Cup and the Sydney Shield each weekend – and will be back at Storey Park, Asquith this Sunday for the Asquith Magpies match ups against the Moorebank Rams at 1pm in Sydney Shield and Mounties at 3pm in Ron Massey Cup.
Both of Sunday's games can be heard on 100.1FM and via web streaming at www.triplehfm.com.au.