Mounties have put aside a determined Blacktown Workers outfit, edging the Sea Eagles 22-14 in the side's Round 19 Intrust Super Premiership NSW meeting at Aubrey Keech Reserve.
Match: Mounties v Sea Eagles
Round 19 -
Venue: Aubrey Keech Reserve
Heading into the match in second on the competition's standings, Mounties were widely tipped to get the two points over their rivals – but in a reminder of the closeness of the competition, they were made to fight and work for every inch in an all-engrossing affair.
Looking slick to start the match, Mounties picked up from where they left off the week prior against Western Suburbs – Brendan O'Hagan's out-the-back ball to Tyler Cornish sending the nippy No.1 in for the game's first points.
Mid-season signing Taane Milne again shouldered the goal-kicking responsibilities, and without trouble took Mounties to an early 6-0 front.
But on the back of consecutive penalties, Blacktown worked possession into 'good ball' areas, and crossed for a try of their own soon after.
Following a burst of second-phase play, Cade Cust provided a cross-field kick towards returning NRL veteran Jorge Taufua who collected the ball and the points to go with it.
Joey Lussick converted and locked the scores at 6-6, 12 minutes played.
In an at-times heated contest, the sides traded blows in the middle of the field. Eventually it was the Mounties who were next to score, with Cornish again heavily involved.
Completing an otherwise clunky attacking set, Cornish's kick towards the in-goal area was scooped up by a desperate Sebastian Kris, who was rewarded with a try. Milne made no mistake in turning four into six, and seeing the score to 12-6, the Mounties leading.
Tempers continued to flair, and almost at boiling point, the Mounties earned a reprieve.
Close enough to opt for a gift two points, Milne did – Mounties taking the 14-6 lead into the sheds at half-time.
Needing a fast start to the second period, Blacktown found just that.
Blacktown had worked possession into the Mounties' half before newcomer half Dean Matterson grubbed a kick towards a corner to complete the set.
But such was the bounce of the ball – and the desire of Matterson to retrieve his own kick – the former Wyong Roos No.6 gathered possession for the Sea Eagles to score the side's second of the afternoon.
Again, from out wide, Lussick converted and Blacktown were back to within two points.
But as been the tale for much of the Mounties season, the home side continued to apply pressure. Errors and ill-discipline on Blacktown's behalf invited Ryan Carr's side into attacking areas – but to the credit of the visitors, the Sea Eagles continued to turn them away.
And again, they were forced to scramble when Mounties went close through Jordan Martin in the 53rd minute.
A crunching tackle to hold the winger short of the goal-line was enough cause for celebration for the Blacktown side, who continued to defy possession, and their position on the Intrust Super Premiership ladder.
Having turned Mounties away, Blacktown – much the same as Milne in the first half – pointed to the posts when earning a penalty nearer the uprights.
Lussick converted to tie the match at 14-14 with 23 minutes still to play.
Mounties hit back with a penalty goal of their own in the 69th minute to again take a two-point lead. A hand in the ruck caused Craig Garvey to knock-on, but deemed an illegal involvement on the Blacktown defender's part, Milne raised the touch judges' flags and took the score to 16-14.
After trading penalty goals, up stepped Garvey when it mattered most.
In an all-too familiar sight for opposition defences, the speedy No.9 darted from dummy-half through the Blacktown line, before linking with Milne who did the rest to land the telling blow.
Milne converted his own shot on goal, taking the Mounties to an all-but unassailable lead with six minutes to play.
And so, it proved to be enough at the sound of the final siren, as Mounties hung on to record a 22-14 win – their second success over Blacktown in 2018.
MOUNTIES 22 (T Cornish S Kris T Milne tries Milne 5 goals) bt BLACKTOWN 14 (J Taufua D Matterson tries Lussick 3 goals)