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Canterbury Cup NSW Rd 17 – scores, highlights, reports

Round 17 of the Canterbury Cup NSW kicked off on Friday with the Bulldogs hanging on in a thriller against the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium. Meanwhile, the action continues on Saturday as the Rabbitohs look to continue their strong form against the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles

Newcastle Knights v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

HGHLIGHTS | Newcastle v Canterbury-Bankstown – Rd 17

Tries to Ben Marshcke and Fa'amanu Brown in the dying stages has given the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs a thrilling 12-8 victory over the Newcastle Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday. 

It seemed as though the Knights would prevail in another low-scoring affair with a Mitchell Andrews try in the 15th minutes being the only breakthrough until the latter stages of the contest.

It was all before Marshcke and Brown crossed within six minutes, in the 69th and 75th minute respectively, to help the Bulldogs to their eighth win in 10 games. 

The loss proves heartbreaking for the Knights as they struggle to make a surge towards the top 8 of the competition ladder, while the Bulldogs continue to cement their status as premiership heavyweights with another gritty win away from home. 

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles

HIGHLIGHTS | South Sydney v Blacktown Workers – Rd 17

Stewart Moses

South Sydney have conceded top spot on the Canterbury Cup NSW with a shock 30-22 loss to the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium on Saturday. 

Despite the home side leading 10-6 after 15 minutes, it was Blacktown, led by experienced halves Trent Hodkinson and Kane Elgey, who would stun their opponents with a three-try scoring blitz to lead 24-10 at the break before withstanding a second half comeback from the Rabbitohs, minus recent signing from the Brisbane Broncos, Jayden Su’a, to record just their third win of the season.

Blacktown were quick out of the blocks to post the opening try of the game to lead 6-0 after just the second minute of play, through a barging effort from close range by prop Andy Saunders, with the Workers having regained possession from a spilt bomb by fullback Corey Allan.

But Allan was quick to atone for his early error, scoring a try of his own ten minutes later off a well-worked play inside the Workers’ 20, that saw the ball travel through the backline before the fullback brushed off a would-be defender to score in the left corner to reduce the gap to 2.

Souths, off another early tackle penalty, soon took the lead, after deciding to channel Blacktown’s left edge defence, with the winger, Liam Huggins diving over to score in the right corner and with Mawene Hiroti’s successful sideline conversion, the Rabbitohs were seemingly in control leading 10-6 after 16 minutes of play.

But Blacktown had other ideas.

A line-break from 30m out by Dane Aukafolau, ended with a try to his support, Abbas Miski and with Elgey’s easy conversion, the Workers led once more, 12-10 midway through the opening half.

The visitors soon wrestled control of the game, when they posted another two tries to open up a 12 point gap heading towards the main break.

Hooker Zach Dockar-Clay, scored the first of those two tries, scooping up a loose Saunders offload and beat several defenders to dive over to the right of the posts, before the visitors incredibly went further in front courtesy of a try to Tevita Funa, a powerhouse effort from the winger after Elgey and Tony Williams combined with some fine lead-up work.

And having denied Allan a second try just two minutes out from half time after Hiroti was deemed to have gone into touch before getting his offload away to the fullback, Blacktown extended their lead to 24-10 at halftime courtesy of a successfully converted 35m penalty goal to Elgey.

But if it was all Blacktown in the first half, it was all South Sydney in the second half as they responded with a three-try blitz of their own between the 60thand 68thminute.

A second try to Higgins, who accepted a long cut-out pass from half, Blake Taaffe, to score in the corner but despite Hiroti’s missed conversion, sparked the Rabbitohs’ comeback, trailing 24-14.

Off the next set, the Rabbitohs were in again, with Taaffe, provider of the previous try, turning into scorer with a brilliant chip and chase effort of his own and reducing the gap to just a converted try with fifteen minutes remaining.

Souths’ third try in eight minutes came when a shift left ended with a try to an unmarked Hiroti, which again went unconverted to leave the hosts trailing by two points but with plenty of time left on the clock.

But that is as close as the Rabbitohs got as Blacktown, having been kept scoreless for all of the last ten seconds of the second half, scored a bizarre try through Alfred Smalley, who swooped on a loose Souths’ offload to score on the siren, given Workers the boilover win of the season to date, 28-20.  

It’s a much-needed win for Blacktown, with the Workers now within three points of second-last placed Newcastle as they look for rare back-to-back wins, when they head to North Sydney Oval next Sunday afternoon to take on the Bears.

Conversely the loss by Souths allows Penrith to take back the competition lead in the Canterbury Cup, although the Rabbitohs at least have the luxury of a bye next round.

North Sydney Bears v Newtown Jets

HIGHLIGHTS | North Sydney v Newtown – Rd 17

Rebecca Szabo

A Billy Smith hat-trick leads the North Sydney Bears to a commanding 22-8 win over the Newtown Jets at North Sydney Oval on Sunday afternoon.

The first half saw the Bears with most of the possession and their left hand edge looked constantly dangerous. Billy Smith opened the scoring early with back-to-back tries only 10 minutes into the game. The Bears speedily took the lead to 8-0, however this lead was halved swiftly as the Jets bit back to score their first try of the game.

The Jets were unable to get out of their own end for most of the first half, with relentless defensive efforts from the Bears. However, it was the Bears offence that shone as Bradley Deitz speedily darted from dummy half to score right under the posts, Brock Lamb converted with ease opening the score up to 14-4 in favour of the Bears.

After halftime break the Jets saw more ball and were creating more attacking opportunities for themselves. The Jets put up a bomb with Tyla Tamuo quick to chase won the contest and sprinted another 20 metres for the try line for the opening try of the second half, closing the deficit to 14-8.

The Bears were dangerous in attack and again the left hand edge was relentless, however multiple forward passes on the wing kept the Bears searching for points. Matt Ikuvalu showcased his skills winning the aerial contest off a highball and came down to score for the Bears, widening their lead to 18-8.

The North Sydney Bears looked like the more attacking and dangerous team all day, with the Jets finding it hard to defend their running offence and polished attack. Billy Smith was able to score his third try of the game in the last minute, running through a gap to dive over the try line right in front of the Bears faithfuls ending on a high. Full time score 22-8.

Western Suburbs Magpies v Wentworthville Magpies

HIGHLIGHTS | Western Suburbs v Wentworthville – Rd 17

Andrew Jackson

100 games of first-grade experience were the difference as the class of halfback Will Smith and fullback Bevan French helped the Wentworthville Magpies to a 26-10 win over Western Suburbs on Sunday afternoon at Bankwest Stadium.

Along with hooker Matt McIllwrick, who boasts 56 NRL games, the pair put in a composed performance against their more inexperienced counterparts.

Smith, whose last first-grade appearance was in Round 13, was a constant threat in attack finishing the match with three try-assists while his kicking game was precise.

French, who tops the try scorers in the Canterbury Cup NSW competition, was deceptive as always with the ball in hand while also another valuable kicking option.

An early penalty gifted Western Suburbs prime attacking field position and they capitalised with ease, halfback Jock Madden playing it short for a charging Luke Garner to score.

Madden was successful with his conversion, handing Wests a 6-0 lead.

A smart kick from Smith and strong contact from French then saw Wentworthville force a dropout to earn their first shot at points.

And they too were quick to take advantage, a left-side spread ending with Smith putting Ethan Parry over.

Smith couldn’t land the conversion from near the sideline, leaving the score at 6-4 after 10 minutes.

Wests eventually hit back when Tommy Talau fended off Parry to surge over in the 17th minute.

Madden’s conversion drifted right of the posts.

In a seesawing affair, an error coming out of trouble from Wests fullback Watson Heleta invited Wentworthville back into the contest.

McIllwrick threw a crash ball to Oregon Kaufusi, the successful conversion then locking things up with 15 minutes remaining in the first half.

Two opportunities went begging in the next five minutes as both Smith and Stefano Utoikamanu went over the line but were unable to get the ball down.

Smith made up for it minutes later though, bagging his second try-assist of the game as he put Salesi Fainga’a over.

The conversion attempt from Smith was waved away.

Their first-grade experience telling, Smith and French together forced consecutive dropouts to heap further pressure on Wests and it told as Rhys Davies darted out of dummy-half to score in the dying moments of the half.

He landed the conversion to hand Wentworthville a 20-10 lead at the break.

After a relatively uneventful opening 15 minutes to the second half, Tim Mannah burst through the middle and could see the speedy French backing up in support.

But the fullback was held back, prompting the officials to blow a penalty and Wentworthville extended their lead.

Smith was the creator once more, this time throwing an ambitious long ball which bounced up for Haze Dunster to soar over in the corner.

Davies nailed the conversion from the sideline.

Wests went over for two late tries, the first to Kane McQuiggin before Max Burey chased down a chip kick, leaving the final difference at six points.

St George Illawarra Dragons v Mounties

HIGHLIGHTS | St George Illawarra v Mounties - Rd 17

Blake Edwards

The St George Illawarra Dragons have held out a second half fightback from the Mounties to prevail 24-18 victors at WIN Stadium.

St George Illawarra welcomed back a host of players from NRL duties as well as two Under 20’s origin players in Jason Saab (NSW) and Eddie Blacker (QLD) who are backing up from Wednesday night's clash at ANZ Stadium. Both sides were looking to change their fortunes after narrow Round 16 losses to the Jets and Rabbitohs respectively.

It was the Red V who got off to a flyer scoring back-to-back tries in the opening twenty. Hooker Joey Lovodua found his way to the line from close range, with his effort shortly backed up by fellow forward Lachlan Timm who barged over off the back of some nice second hand phase play by the hosts. Jai Field made no mistake with his conversions to give his side the 12-0 advantage.

The Dragons threw plenty at the Mounties on their own line, continually making them work, which they did. Spirited defenders scrambled to save two certain Dragons four-pointers. Through their hard work, the Mounties defence turned into attack to mount their own pressure on the Dragons line. The trusty boot of Sam Williams forced multiple repeat sets, but the visitors were unable to crack them, resulting in the Dragons maintaining their 12-0 lead at the break.

Mounties started the second half in similar fashion to the Dragons, running in two quick tries shortly after the resumption to playmakers Williams and Brenden O’Hagan. Andre Niko slotted the two goals to lock the scores at 12-all. Their fortunes were short lived, when Dragons’ utility Eli Levido took advantage of a dropped ball in-goal, diving on the rolling steeden to force it for the try. Field snapped the conversion for a six point lead. A neat try to five-eighth Zeik Foster gave the hosts a handy 24-12 lead heading into the final fifteen minutes.

A backline movement finished off by flanker Tony Santi set up a grandstand finish at 24-18, with under ten minutes on the clock. The Santi try would be the last points scored in the game with the Dragons hanging on for a 24-18 victory.

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