Canterbury Cup NSW Rd 20 - scores, highlights, reports

Rolling coverage of Round 20 in the Canterbury Cup NSW.

St George Illawarra v Wentworthville

Blake Edwards

Four tries to St George Illawarra Dragons’ Jackson Ford has helped his side register a 36-16 victory over the Wentworthville Magpies, with the victory also promoting the Dragons back into the top four.

The Dragons hit the lead early after a strong run from Jackson Ford saw the second-rower barge his way over the stripe. Wenty had their chance a set later, though a poor pass into a gap from Rhys Davies was put down by Andrew Davey.

Ford found his way over the line for the second time within fifteen minutes, when a downfield kick was fielded by Jonus Pearson who threw the ball back inside hitting the support runner before managing an offload to Ford who raced in under the posts. Sailor slotted it the conversion to gain the 12-0 advantage.

A repeat set for the Magpies saw them put the Dragons under pressure for the first time in the game. They took full advantage of the opportunity,  with a mid-field shift finished off nicely by Josh Hoffman who dived across the line, with the Davies kick narrowing the Dragons lead to 12-6.

Despite some momentum with the magpies in the back-end of the half, the boot of Darren Nicholls granted the Dragons their third try, with the Nicholls crossfield kick plucked out of the air by flanker Lachlan Maranta who showed great athleticism to ground it inside the touch-in-goal line. Sailor made no mistake with the conversion to give the Red V a healthy 18-6 lead at the break.

Wenty hit back shortly after the resumption of play through big backrower Salesi Fainga’a who broke into open space before he toed it ahead, eventually winning the race to the ball to ground it in-goal. Davies goal was successful to once again get within six points of the hosts at 18-12. The Magpies continued with their momentum crossing again in the 55th minute, when Haze Dunster danced around the Dragons defence close to the line, before strolling over. Davies couldn’t add the extras, meaning the Red V held onto a narrow 18-16 lead.

The Dragons broke their second half scoring rut in the 60th minute when Nicholls put a well weighted chip downfield for a chasing Matt Dufty who won the race against two Wenty chasers to force the steeden. Sailors goal was successful, giving his side a bit of breathing room at 24-16. The momentum had well and truly shifted in the host favour with Ford bagging a hat-trick in the ensuing sets after points. Sailor slotted the goal extending the lead to 30-16 with fifteen on the clock.

Ford continued to worry the Magpies defence running over for his fourth try of the afternoon with a forceful run from close range, dismissing of several defenders before carrying one over the stripe with him. The Dragons eventually ran out 30-16 winners, etching their spot in the top four after the Bears narrow 31-24 loss to the Rabbitohs. 

North Sydney v South Sydney

Hannah McGrory 

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have shifted to first place on the ladder after a dominant 31- 24 win over North Sydney Bears at North Sydney Oval.

A Blake Taaffe field goal and double from Leigh Higgins secured the Rabbitohs the win, after being down 10 – nil in the opening 20 minutes of the game.

A late second half surge from the North Sydney Bears was not enough to get the win. The absence of halfback Brock Lamb went under the radar as Drew Hutchison stood up and set up two tries. 

Rabbitohs winger, Higgins admitted he felt relief after his halfback secured the two points with the field goal.

“Felt relief because I knew the two points were secured after the field goal,” Higgins told NSWRL post match.

“The last couple of tries made things interesting, we got some good halves that could settle the ship when we need to do it. Overall, happy with the result. Everyone is trying to get that top four finish, it’s where you want to be in the business end of the year. We just have to keep turning up, we make it hard for ourselves but we always find a way which is pleasing.”

The North Sydney Bears opened up the scoring in the second minute of the match through Billy Smith. Halfback Drew Hutchison who has come into the halves with the absence of Brock Lamb, put in a great kick to send Smith over. Smith successfully converted his try to give his side a 6- nil lead.

After earning another set of six, a long ball from Hutchinson set up the home side for Bernard Lewis to score their second of the day. Billy Smith pushed his conversion attempt out to the left and was unsuccessful.

The visitors then capitalised from a penalty and Blake Taaffe put in a deft kick to Leigh Higgins to send him over in the right-hand corner. Mawene Hiroti successfully converted as the Bears held a 10-6 lead.

Max Bailey was put on report for a dangerous tackle as Souths opted to take the two points and successfully kicked the penalty goal. Bears remained in front 10-8.

The Rabbitohs created a brilliant piece of play down the right edge, as Taaffe sent Higgins over with the half time siren sounding in the background. The kick attempt was unsuccessful as the Rabbitohs went into the sheds in front 12-10.

The Rabbitohs started strongly in the second half as Billy Brittain put Connor Tracey in to space to score under the posts. Hiroti successfully converted to extend their lead 18-10.

The home side made an unforced error in goal, rewarding Souths with a goal line drop out. Bears conceded a penalty giving their opposition another set of six, 20 metres from their line.

The Rabbitohs made no mistake, with Brittain setting up Jaydn Su’A who found space and went over to score a four-pointer. Hiroti’s conversion was successful as they remained in front 24-10.

Bears Billy Smith was over for his second of the day, but his conversion attempt was short closing the gap to 24-14 Souths way.

Canterbury-Bankstown v Penrith

Stewart Moses

Canterbury have momentarily moved back into outright lead of the Canterbury Cup competition lead following a hard fought 26-22 win over previous joint-competition leaders, Penrith at Bankwest Stadium, in a game where the lead changed seven times before the Bulldogs took charge during the second half.

The win, which makes up in part for a surprise 28-18 loss to a vastly understrength Panthers outfit last month, was aided by the inclusion of experienced NRL forward, Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

Jayden Okunbor’s double proved crucial for the Bulldogs, cancelling out Billy Burns’ second double in three games.

Penrith had the better attacking opportunities but it was the Bulldogs who would against the run of play score first through Okunbor, who finished off a 80m play started by centre, Morgan Harper, who swooped on a wayward pass from Panthers five-eighth Adam Burton to set up his winger for the runaway try to lead 4-0 after eight minutes.

Lost possession and conceded penalties by the Panthers inside their own 20 almost proved costly.

But a missed opportunity by the Bulldogs to extend their lead was instead converted into points by their opponents in the very next set with Burns finishing off a well worked move down the left edge to score in the corner, and with Jed Cartwright’s successful sideline conversion, the Panthers led 6-4 after 16 minutes.

But that lead was short lived, with the Panthers duly punished for allowing the kick-off to go into touch, with halfback Fa’amanu Brown crashing over from close range from the ensuing set to allow the Bulldogs to regain the lead 10-6.

Just when it looked the Bulldogs would head into the break in front, the Panthers snatched back the lead through a converted try to prop Spencer Leniu, who steamed onto a short pass from Sam McKendry to score next to the posts.

However as it was in the first half, it would be the Bulldogs who would open the scoring in the second to once again regain the lead through Connelly Lemuelu after taking a brilliant batt on from back-rower Matt Doorey to score in the left corner in the 46th minute, with Brown’s conversion from the sideline, allowing the home side to lead by four.

And the Bulldogs soon took the biggest lead of the game to date, with a second try to Okunbor giving the home side an eight-point buffer.

However that lead was cut back to just two five minutes later when hooker Sione Katoa took on the line on the last tackle to score himself from dummy half.

The lead changed hands for a sixth time when Penrith made it back-to-back tries from consecutive sets with arguably the try of the game, set up by a brilliant Cartwright offload from just inside his own half, before Malakai Watene-Zelezniak’s chip kick landed into the arms of Burns to score his second try to give the Panthers a two-point advantage with twenty minutes remaining.

But there would be one final twist with the Bulldogs ensuring a seventh lead change after fullback Toa Mata’afa shrugged off Pat Hollis’ attempted tackle to score out wide from close range to this time give Canterbury a four-point lead that they would hold onto despite the Panthers having several attacking opportunities in the closing minutes.

Next Sunday the Bulldogs head west to HE Laybutt Field to take on Mounties while two nights earlier the Panthers will be looking to bounce back from today’s defeat when they host the Newtown Jets at Panthers Stadium.

Blacktown v Newtown

Jarrod Ryan

A second half comeback from the Blacktown Workers lead by a two try effort from prop Lloyd Perrett saw a narrow Sea Eagles win over the Newtown Jets.

Early pressure from the Jets with back-to-back sets gifted Newtown the first try coming off the back of a Blacktown drop out. The Newtown blackline’s quick hands saw fullback William Kennedy reaching out for the try line.

Blacktown replied in their following set with a try from centre Tevita Funa scoring in the corner off the back of a dominant forward run from experienced prop Lloyd Perret.

The Jets continued to exploit the gaps in the Blacktown midfield defence as hooker Grant Garvey shot through from dummy half to set the foundation for a Jack Williams grabber. Blacktown’s unsuccessful attempt at a short dropout gave the Jets decent field position, allowing winger Luke Polselli to demonstrate his athleticism, diving over the left corner to score Newtown second try of the afternoon.

The Blacktown Sea Eagles attempted to regain control of the first half with inspired defensive efforts from winger Abbas Miski and powerful runs from forwards Tony Williams and Lloyd Perrett off the back of consistent offloading from Dane Aukafolau.

Newtown’s in-form winger Sione Katoa set up the last try of the first half with an 80-metre run gifted to him from a poorly placed Sea Ealges short bomb. Katoa dished an inside ball to his edge partner Tyrone Phillips who scored underneath the posts Kyle Flanagan took no time in slotting the easy conversion which gave the Jets the 14-point advantage going into the half time break.

Undisciplined Blacktown defence at the start of the second half put Newtown in front a further two points with an easy penalty goal slotted by Kyle Flannagan.

The Sea Eagles kept themselves in the game with an unconverted try scored by an effective overlap set play which saw winger Abbas Miski dive over the line.

Blacktown continued to pressure Newtown through the middle with Lloyd Perrett falling over the line underneath the posts off the back of a short ball from crafty hooker Zach Docker-Clay. A successful conversion from Elgey saw the team close the gap by 6 points.

Blacktown’s lack of ball control in attempt to regain momentum gifted the Jets field position to set up a two-man cut out pass that allowed Sione Katoa to stroll over the line. The conversion attempt for the Jets’ fourth try was unsuccessful as the ball bounced off the crossbar.

An Elgey and Williams mid-field combination kept the Blacktown Workers in the game as hooker Docker-Clay scored under the post with 17 minutes to go.

The Sea Eagles finally saw the lead with prop Lloyd Perret crashing over the line for his second try gifting Blacktown the game from an Elgey conversion with less than five minutes to go.

Warriors v Mounties

Jamie Wall

A late try by Setu Tu has sealed a hard fought 36-22 win for the Warriors over Mounties today at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.

Despite the challenging, blustery conditions, the Warriors made a good start. Adam Keighran danced through some weak defence off their first possession to score next to the posts in only the third minute.

However, that’s about as good as it would get for the Warriors for quite a while. An error from the kickoff gave the ball straight back to Mounties with a goal line drop out, and it didn’t take long for them to even up the score when Sam Williams and Dean Matterson combined to send big winger Tony Satini over in the corner. A great sideline kick from Andre Niko levelled it up and it signalled the start of a long period of dominance for the visitors.

They came close to scoring again after a penalty when Royce Hunt and Sam Lisone decided to trade punches near the Warriors’ line. Referee Cameron Paddy had no hesitation in sending both men to the bin for a rest.

There was a stroke of good luck for Mounties in the 19th minute when a kick through by Williams bounced off the goal post padding, leaving the Warriors’ defenders sprawling on the turf. Williams followed up and dived on the ball over the tryline to send Mounties out to a 12-6 lead.

Another period of Mounties dominance was well rewarded not long after. A seemingly innocuous set of hands out wide saw Sebastian Kris power through a weak tackle from Paul Turner to smash his way over in the right hand corner.

Just when it seemed as though Mounties would shoot out to a big lead, a good run by Turner set the Warriors up with good field position. Sean Mullany then darted from dummy half to score next to the posts and close the gap up to 16-12, which it stayed till the break.

The Warriors then had a massive slice of luck of their own at the resumption, with a kick from Hayze Perham taking a deflection off Brendan O’Hagan to bounce up perfectly for Lewis Soosemea to dive and plant the ball next to the corner flag. Keighran’s kick sailed wide and the scores were locked at 16-all.

10 minutes later Leivaha Pulu went through a big gap off a deflected pass, and sent Setu Tu away for a try that gave the Warriors the lead. All of a sudden the momentum was firmly with the home side, and Mounties did them another big favour by sending the kickoff out on the full. By now the weather had turned nasty as well, with showers sweeping the ground.

It didn’t stop the Warriors putting on a bit of razzle-dazzle, with a bomb from Keighran batted back infield by Soosemea for Ligi Sao and Taane Milne to juggle and eventually send Perham over for a crucial try 14 minutes from time.

But Mounties weren’t about to lie down. They finally got a bit of ball in the Warriors’ red zone and a Williams kick found O’Hagan flying onto the bounce to score in a handy position. The kick made the score 28-22.

The Warriors then worked themselves nicely into position for Keighran to set up for a field goal, but instead he bounced out of a couple of rush defenders and set sail for the line from 20 metres out. He looped a pass out for Tu to complete a double with a try in the corner, then sealed the win by knocking over the sideline conversion.

The loss is Mounties’ sixth in a row, but more crucially puts the Warriors in touching distance of a playoff spot with four rounds to play in the Canterbury Cup.