Wyong Roos have ended the Western Suburbs Magpies' season, winning through to a Week Two Semi-Final on the back of a dramatic extra time 18-14 victory at Panthers Stadium.
Match: Magpies v Roos
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: Panthers Stadium
An 88th-minute try to Matt Ikavalu secured a thrilling win for the Roos, who trailed by 10 points with under 20 minutes to play in the match.
The Roos welcomed the return of Sean O'Sullivan, Matt Ikuvalu and Kurt Baptist pre-game, while Western Suburbs went without Malakai Watene-Zelezniak – who scored a hat-trick when the sides met a fortnight ago.
O'Sullivan – ISP NSW Residents Man of the Match in 2018 – nailed a vital conversion with only minutes on the clock to level the scores at 12 – and he very nearly slotted a field-goal in regulation time to see the Roos home without added the stresses.
But it wasn't to be.
The Roos left their run rate, and despite enjoying the bulk of first-half possession, it was the Western Suburbs Magpies who eventually found first points.
A late inclusion for the absent Watene-Zelezniak, winger Connelly Lemuelu went in for the Magpies' first try in the shadows of half-time.
Lemuelu finished off a left-to-right shift to touchdown for his side's – and the match's – first points. Tuimoala Lolohea was unable to add the extras from the sideline, and the Magpies' 4-0 lead remained.
Soon after the change of ends, Lolohea split the Roos' defence and the Magpies were deep on the attack. Forcing a goal-line drop out at the end of the set, Western Suburbs maintained their momentum.
Harrison O'Toole finished a blind-side raid – inspired by Lolohea's dummy-half pass – and improved the position of the put down.
Lolohea slotted the conversion from adjacent to the uprights, and Wests lead 10-0, 35 minutes to play.
In a back-and-forth second-half, Luke Garner looked to have sent the Magpies three tries clear, but was ruled to have knocked on a Lolohea grubber kick over the Roos try line.
Wyong eventually worked the ball into an attacking zone, and from a scrum-base shift, wily No.1 Luke Sharpe went in to score.
O'Sullivan made no mistake from the conversion, kicking into the teeth of a south-easterly breeze at Panthers Stadium, lessening the Roos' deficit to four.
Chasing points as time ticked away, the Roos were forced into a short goal-line drop out, but O'Sullivan's attempt to win back possession didn't travel the obligatory 10 metres.
Lolohea opted for the gift two points from in front, giving his side a 12-6 lead with six minutes to play.
Desperate for possession, again the Roos went short from the restart of play – this time though, the regained the ball and how crucial a kick it was from Tyler Cornish.
In the set of six to follow, the Roos stripped the Magpies' numbers bare and Paul Momirovski crossed for points.
Showing nerves of steel, O'Sullivan steered the kick from wide-out to lock the scores up at 12-all.
From the ensuing set, the Roos earned a penalty and worked the ball into field-goal territory. O'Sullivan steadied himself, again, and commanded possession – taking a snap shot on goal from 30-metres out, but the kick rocketed into the left-hand upright.
So, into extra time the match went, and again O'Sullivan had a chance to be the hero.
Almost beyond reckoning, the 20-year-old missed another field-goal shot, but this time from directly in front, 15 metres from the target.
On the cusp of half-time in the first five minutes of extra time, Lolohea pointed to the posts again and kicked Wests two points clear from a penalty.
Their season hanging in the balance, the Wyong Roos needed to muster up a miracle – and somehow, some way, they did just that.
With under two minutes to play in the match, still trailing by two, the Roos rolled the dice on the last play to score the match-winning try.
Matt Ikuvalu finished the right-to-left-to-right shift to score, giving his side an unassailable lead with only seconds to play following the put down.
Albeit elementary, O'Sullivan guided the conversion through the posts to round out an incredible match 18-14.
Wyong Roos will meet the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the first Semi-Final clash of Week Two.
WYONG 18 (L Sharpe P Momirovski M Ikavalu tries S O'Sullivan 3 goals) bt WESTERN SUBURBS 14 (C Lemuelu H O'Toole tries T Lolohea 3 goals)