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Live Coverage | Canterbury Cup NSW Rd 15

Canterbury Cup NSW - Round 15. 

St George Illawarra Dragons v Panthers

Blake Edwards

A late try to Dragons halfback Darren Nicholls put a dagger in the hearts of his former team, giving the joint-venture a nail-biting 24-22 victory over the Penrith Panthers at WIN Stadium on Saturday.

Coach Mat Head named multiple players in different positions, with not many of them eventuating once the players took the paddock. The most notable changes were that of play-maker Adam Clune who dropped to fullback, replaced by Darren Nicholls in the halves which pushed Tristan Sailor to the centre and Jackson Ford back to a more familiar and sensible second-row position.

The Dragons have gifted an early chance by the Panthers after a wayward pass found Tristan Sailor who scooped it up nearly breaking the defenders. Exciting prospect Jai Field took advantage of the staggered Penrith defenders the next play, fooling the Panthers with a dummy before racing forty meters to plant it down.

The hosts nearly had a second a short time later, when Field again found himself among the action splitting the defence once again before popping a ball back inside to Adam Clune who couldn’t hang on to it.

The Panthers clawed their way back into to taking full advantage of their chance with the steeden, producing a nice backline play which was finished off nicely by Stephen Crichton out wide.

The kick from Dean Blore was equally impressive from the sideline to level it up at 6-all.

A long cross-field kick by Darren Nicholls was plucked out of the air nicely by Crichton who nearly broke through Red V defenders before a smart counter-attack option resulted in the hosts second four-pointer, with Steve Marsters raking the ball before racing a short distance to cross under the sticks. Sailor made no mistake with the kick to give his side a six-point lead.

Panthers Brayden McGrady turned defence into attack when he took an intercept on his own line, before racing the length of the field to score an incredible try. The sideline conversion was again nailed by Blore to level it at 12-all.

 The Panthers looked the better side in the final fifteen minutes of the first half and were rewarded with another try just before the break when Charlie Staines broke through before throwing a basketball like pass over to Crichton who finished it off, bagging a first-half double and giving the Panthers an 18-12 halftime lead.

The visitors survived to early scares shortly after the resumption with the Dragons bombing two scoring opportunities in a space of just four tackles. Penrith dusted themselves off from the shaky start, charging up field a short while later to score their fourth try of the afternoon through Reed Izzard who crashed over from short range. Blore blotched the kick, meaning the Panthers held just a ten point lead.

It was third time lucky for the Red V, with some off the cuff footy leading to their first try of the second half, shifting the ball dragons east to west, before it landed in the hands of Jackson Ford hand who tucked it under his arm and straightened the attack, eventually burrowing over the line to keep his side in the game, trailing 22-18 with a quarter remaining.

The game was in the balance for a good period of the second half, with both teams not taking full advantage of their opportunities. This included a gift two points for the Panthers in front of the sticks which went begging when Blore hit the right-hand upright before it landed in the hands of the Dragons.

The hosts looked to attack immediately after the regather, but turned over the ball just a few tackles later. A grandstand finish was on the cards at this moment with less than ten minutes of play remaining.

Moments later Dragons half Darren Nicholls split through the Panthers defence from close range, diving over to score a much-needed try for the Red V. Sailors kick put the hosts in front 24-22 with five remaining on the clock. The Panthers had a chance to steal it late in the game but came up trumps when Billy Burns dropped the ball in a crucial position.

The Dragons held their nerve, running away narrow 24-22 victors over the competition front-runners.

North Sydney Bears v Warriors

Jarrod Ryan

Seventh placed North Sydney Bears were looking to bounce back against tenth place New Zealand Warriors after their two hefty losses before Representative Round. The game at North Sydney Oval was the first encounter between the two teams this season which saw the Warriors dominate through the middle of the field in an aggressive 32-10 win.

The first try of the game came as a result of a grubber from North Sydney Bears Brock Lamb sending second rower Thomas Freebairn over the line. A missed conversation from the half back gave the home side a four point lead at the eleven minute mark. The Warriors retaliated nine minutes later through aggressive attack which gifted winger Setu Tu a try on the left edge from a pass delivered by Samoan international Chanel Harris-Tavita. A straight kick from five-eighth Adam Keighran put the visiting team ahead.

North Sydney struggled late in the first half with two players going off with HIA as well as poor fifth tackle options within the Warriors half. Experienced New Zealand hooker Issac Luke looked confident with the ball in hand setting the foundation for his team with kicks into space from dummy half. Both teams gave away multiple errors but neither could capitalise from the scoring opportunities which left the Warriors ahead at half time by two points.

The Warriors were dominant in the second half with strong runs from their forward pack through the middle of the field. An early second half try by hooker Issac Luke saw the visitors up by eight points after two minutes. The Warriors forward pack continued to dominate the Bear’s defence with fast play the balls from Chris Satae allowing fullback Adam Pompey to cross the try line off a back line set play. Issac Luke and half back Harris-Tavita combined through the middle to put the Warriors ahead by fourteen with twenty five minutes to go.

The Bear’s continuously spread the ball to the left side of the field through replacement half Drew Hutchinson who could not capitalise on their fielded position. A cut out pass to right winger Nicholas O’Meley saw the home side cross for their second try of the day. But any chance of a comeback was squashed through a line break try from dummy half by Issac Luke gifting the team a twenty point lead with ten minutes remaining.

An aggressive final ten minutes saw tempers flare after a shoulder charge from New Zealand forward Joshua Curren which resulted in him being placed on report and sent to the sin bin. An altercation between both teams after this incident forced the referees to separate the teams and send Bear’s hooker Bradley Dietz for ten in the bin. A penalty and a sin binning of Bears half Brock Lamb minutes later after warnings from the officials saw the visitors finish the game with 32 points over the North Sydney bears who only managed 10.

Western Suburbs Magpies v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Hannah McGrory

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have recorded another dominant victory, after defeating the Western Suburbs Magpies 34-16 at Campbelltown Stadium.

In an error riddled fast half, Souths went into the half time break with an eight- point lead. 

Backing up after a solid win over the Panthers last week, the in-form squad will be a force to be reckoned with.  Boosted by five-eighth Adam Doueihi who returned to the field after an ACL injury, the halves combination worked well to secure their fourth consecutive win. 

Rabbitohs five-eighth Adam Doueihi said he was “happy to be back” on the field and thrilled to have picked up the two points after the dominant performance from his team.

 “You want to bank the two points as much as possible and we’ve been able to do it four times in a row. The coach Shane Millard has been in to us about being energetic and forget about the last week and focusing on the next job,” Doueihi told post match.  

Doueihi reflected in his side’s performance mentioning they needed to improve in the second half to come away with victory.

“We weren’t very happy with our first half, we thought we could be more clinical with our last play options,” said the Rabbitohs five-eighth.

The Rabbitohs second-rower Jack Johns pushed his way over for the first points of the game following a Magpies unforced error. Mawene Hiroti successfully converted to give Souths a 6- nil lead inside the first ten minutes of the match.   

Souths were awarded a penalty after centre Jacob Gagan was obstructed with the Rabbitohs making the most of it and fullback Leigh Higgins scoring their second of the match. Hiroti successfully converted to add the extras and extend the lead 12- nil.

Ill- discipline continued to hurt the home side as they conceded three penalties in a row.

Rabbitohs Jaxon Paulo broke through the Magpies defensive line before Josh Reynolds chased him down, made a crucial tackle and took him out of play. Off the back off Reynolds impressive play, the Magpies made the most of the next set taking it to the right edge with Tommy Talau scoring their first points of the game.  Jock Madden was unable to convert with Souths remaining in front 12-4, with five minutes of the first half remaining.

The Magpies came out determined in the second half after another Tommy Talau intercept set up a good set of six. A play down the right side saw Bilal Maarbani score their second of the afternoon. Jock Madden made no mistake and successfully converted. In the next play, the Magpies were awarded a penalty and opted to take the quick tap however, Souths Brock Gray held onto the player and was sent to the sin bin after the professional foul. The Magpies were then in again under the posts through hooker Braden Robson with Madden successfully converting, to give his team a 16-12 lead for the first time in the match.

Time was called off in the 52nd after Magpies Braden Robson was assisted from the field with a leg injury.

Momentum remained with the visitors after they forced a goal line drop out, as they finished off the game with four tries. Bayley Sironen, Dylan O’Connor, Ky Rodwell and Connor Tracey finished up the scoring for the Rabbitohs with Hiroti successfully converting three of the tries to give his team a solid 18-point victory.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Newtown Jets

Blake Edwards

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have snatched first spot on the competition ladder after a strong performance saw them record 40-28 victory over the Newtown Jets at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Jets got off to a flyer scoring their first try after just a few minutes of play, Braydon Trindall through a beautiful face ball which put Tyrone Phillips through a big gap close to the line, with Phillips waltzing through to plant it down. Trindall nailed the kick to give the Jets the 6-0 advantage.

The Bulldogs wasted no time in returning serve when they got their first real opportunity. A quick exchange of hands through the backline was finished off nicely by Jayden Okunbor in the corner. Morgan Harper made no mistake with the conversion, leveling it a 6-all. A short while later, Danny Fualalo crashed over next to the sticks, to give the defending premiers the lead for the first time in the contest.

Bluebags’ Will Kennedy danced around defenders before scoring out wide, with Trindall’s kick waved away, leaving the score at 12-10. The visitors fortunes were short lived, with the Dogs hitting straight back, with Raymond Faitala-Mariner scoring a great try off the back of a Kayne Kalache offload, pushing their lead out to a converted try at 16-10.

Okunbor scored his second try of the afternoon minutes later when he plucked a wobbly Jesse Marschke cross-field kick out of the air, planting it down just inside the touch-in-goal line. Morgan again couldn’t add the extras leaving it at 20-10. Chrstian Crichton dived over out wide before half-time to give the hosts a 24-10 lead at the break.

Newtown scored the first try of the second stanza, when Kennedy again zipped through defenders from close range, strolling over to place it down. Trindall converted the try, with his side trailing 24-16 with half an hour remaining. A knock-on  by the Jets in the esnusing set gave the Dogs sniff, with Crichton taking advantage when he dove over in the corner to collect his double. Harper missed the kick leaving the score at 28-16.

An error riddled period came to an end when Bulldogs hooker Ben Marschke put in a neat grubber metres out from the line for barnstorming prop Renouf To’Omaga who won the race to the ball, applying downward pressure to score the try. Jesse Marschke was handed the kicking duties, slotting the easy two points from in front for a 34-16 lead with less than twenty on the clock. A regulation try to Harper with ten minutes remaining put it out of reach for the Jets, before the visitors scored two late consolation try to Siosifa Talakai and Trindall narrowed the heartbreak, with the Dogs running out 40-28 victors.

Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights

Stewart Moses

The Magpies finish Round 15 just one point out of the top eight after recording a sterling come-from-behind 38-34 win over fellow Western Sydney rivals Mounties at Ringrose Park.

Mounties’ efforts weren’t helped with the loss of key forwards, Royce Hunt and JJ Collins, given their opponents, Wentworthville were able to field the likes of Bevan French, Will Smith, Tim Mannah and Daniel Alvaro.

The Magpies’ efforts were meritorious given they had to come back from a 26-10 deficit early in the second half, with Bevan French putting his class on the game with a double mid-way through the second half, that sparked Wentworthville’s comeback.

Both sides were guilty of making errors but it would be the home side who would settle first and open the scoring in the 8th minute when prop Daniel Alvaro plunged over from close range to give the Magpies a handy 6-0 lead with Rhys Davies’ simple conversion.

But it would just five minutes for the visitors to hit back somewhat fortuitously when a loose Mounties pass inside the Magpies 20 was knocked on and regathered by Dean Matterson to score next to the posts, to make it 6-6 all with Andre Niko’s simple conversion.

Mounties took a 8-6 lead 5 minutes later through a penalty goal to Niko after late Magpies inclusion, Marata Niukore was penalised for late contact on Mounties hooker, Tom Starling.

Mounties were perhaps lucky not to lose a player to the sin bin when Daniel Keir was placed on report for an alleged crusher tackle midway through the first half.

But the visitors weren’t perturbed by the decision and in fact extended their lead out to 6 with an unconverted try to Harley Smart-Shields in the 25th minute, the result of some quick hands out left, which enabled the centre to crash over out wide, before another simple penalty goal to Niko enabled Mounties to take a 14-6 lead after 30 minutes.

A horrible kick return error from the Magpies’ Bevan French was swooped upon by Andre Niko who sprinted 20m untouched to score behind the posts to give the visitors a commanding 14 point lead with seven minutes remaining to the main break.

But having weather further pressure on their own try line, the home side hit back with a try of their own just before the main break with winger Haze Dunster scooting down the sideline to score in the left corner, cutting the margin to 8 with Davies’ booming sideline conversion.

Mounties soon after resumption of play regained ascendancy with a converted try to replacement forward Steven Tevita that pushed the score out to 26-10 with 30 minutes remaining.

But French had other ideas.

The fullback atoned for his earlier error by scoring underneath the posts from close range three minutes later before backing up a break to score his second another four minutes and despite Davies missing the latter conversion, the Magpies suddenly trailed by four with 23 minutes remaining in the game.

Mounties seemingly had steadied the ship with a second try to Smith-Shields midway through the second half, with the centre finishing off a long-range break to dive over to score in the left corner in spectacular fashion, which pushed the score in Mounties’ favour, back out to 30-22.

But an error inside their own half, opened the door for Wentworthville to hit back and they did just that with a try in the right corner to winger Greg Leleisiuao which left the visitors clinging on once again to a four lead with thirteen minutes remaining.

And the Magpies’ comeback was complete when back-rower Andrew Davey crashed over out wide from close range and with Davies’ conversion from close range with ten minutes left on the clock, the home side finally regained a lead that they had not held since the early stages of the game.

The loudest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for the prop forward, Tim Mannah when he scored next to the posts from close range to take the lead out to 38-30, before Mounties scored an unconverted try on the siren in the right corner through centre Matthew Timoko. 

The win means the Magpies remain well in the hunt for a top eight spot while for Mounties, they not only missed another golden opportunity to reclaim top spot on the Canterbury Cup ladder after former league leaders, Penrith, also lost their second game in succession the previous day, but have now slipped back to fifth with back-to-back losses.

Next Saturday sees Wentworthville host Blacktown Workers while Mounties travel to the Metricon High-Performance Centre to take on the Souths Sydney Rabbitohs.