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LIVE COVERAGE | Canterbury Cup NSW FW1

Live coverage of the first week of finals in the Canterbury Cup NSW.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v North Sydney Bears

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have stormed into the Preliminary Final with a thumping 32-12 victory over the North Sydney Bears at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday. 

It was a ruthless attacking display from the foundation-club in an ominous warning to the rest of the competition with a polished performance from start to finish.

Jaxon Paulo set the game alight with a hat-trick, including a stunning 60m dash for his second try, while Mawene Hiroti crossed for two tries of his own. 

South Sydney were relentless in the opening half as they secured a comfortable 18-2 lead, although were made to work hard for their rewards as the Bears defence held strong for a large part of the first stanza. 

They spent a majority of the first-half camped inside enemy territory and it wasn't until the 25th minute when Connor Tracey produced a moment of brilliance to break the game open. 

Tracey took the ball to the line and fooled the defence with a dummy before slicing through and evading Kieran Moss to score adjacent to the uprights. 

The Bears remained committed with their brutal defensive efforts but they could only withstand the pressure for so long, and Paulo eventually took the game by the scruff of the neck with two rapid-fire tries to finish the first-half in style. 

He strolled over for his first in the 33rd minute before finding open space down the left-hand touchline and evading Moss and the scrabmling Bears defence with a lethal step back on the inside for a crucial try on the stroke of half-time. 

Tries on either side of half-time cruelled any chance of a comeback for the Bears as Mawene Hiroti supported a Levi Dodd break to cross for their fourth unanswered try in the 42nd minute. 

Hiroti found his second when he barged his way over from close-range to set a 28-2 lead with just 20 minutes remaining in the contest. 

Egan Butcher crossed for a consolation try in the 68th minute when he stormed onto a deft pass on the right-edge before Bernard Lewis strolled over with just five minutes remaining. 

Paulo completed the hat-trick in the dying stages of the contest to all but seal a spot in the Grand Final Qualifier. 

St George Illawarra Dragons v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Stuart Honeysett

St George Illawarra Dragons are only one game away from the Canterbury Cup NSW Grand Final after Darren Nicholls landed a penalty goal in extra time to set up a thrilling 24-22 win over Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Campbelltown Stadium today.

The highly entertaining match finished in dramatic circumstances after Bulldogs replacement Kayne Kalache was penalised and placed on a report for a shoulder charge on Nicholls.

The Dragons skipper was able to shake off the effects of the hit and step up to land the match-winner to send the Minor Premier straight through to a Preliminary Final. Last year’s champions the Bulldogs will face Wentworthville Magpies next week in a sudden death Semi-Final.

The Dragons were best served through fullback Jai Field, who scored two tries and set up two more in a dominant display. His only blemish was coughing up a ball just before fulltime which paved the way for the Bulldogs to land a penalty goal and lock the scores at 22-all.

It was a pass from Field which set up the opening try of the match to Eli Levido and he stepped up again when his side was trailing 16-6 to lay on another try for centre Charly Runciman.

He reduced the deficit to 20-16 after stepping his way back infield until he found a hole in the ‘Dogs goal line defence but it was his final try that really caught the eye and put the Dragons on track to snatch an unlikely win.

With the Bulldogs attacking the Dragons line, a grubber kick was picked up by Runciman who threw an around the corner pass for a flying Field. The former beach sprinting champion exploded away from the chasers to streak 80 metres upfield and score underneath the posts.

“It was a real end-to-end game and that wind played a big factor,” Field said.

“It was tough to come out and grind it out of our own end going into the wind but we held on which was good.

“After 90 minutes everyone was thinking is it going to be golden point. You just had to get your head around playing an extra ten minutes which our boys did well.

“Our forwards really dug in deep at times because they had all the momentum so we had to try and get it back. Our middle got us on the front foot which made it easy out wide.”

Field downplayed his own performance and said coach Mathew Head had told the team at halftime to focus on getting back into the grind.

“They had all the momentum at the back end of that first half and it was hard for us to stop,” Field said.

“They’ve got some big boys and they roll forward really well so he just said get back in the grind and compete and give it our best crack.”

The Bulldogs got off to a shaky start but recovered midway through the first half to take control of the match. Five-eighth Jesse Marshcke and his brother Ben Marschke both laid on tries with kicks for Kalache, who caught the Dragons goal line defence napping on both occasions.

The Bulldogs luck changed when five-eighth Fa’amanu Brown was forced from the field in the 32nd minute with a knee injury. Brown was treated on the field and tried to run it off but eventually succumbed and played no further part in the match.

Despite his absence, the Bulldogs still came up with a strong contender for try of the season after the halftime siren sounded. The ball passed through 12 sets of hands and went from one side of the field to the other before John Olive finished it off to extend the halftime lead to 20-10.

Mounties v Newtown

Matt Buxton

A massive second half from the Newtown Jets has booked them a place in the second week of finals with a 44-20 victory over Mounties.

Reuben Rennie was explosive on the left for the Jets and posed a constant threat, while the speed and agility of Braydon Trindall and Will Kennedy proved too much for Mounties at the back-end of the game.

Harley Smith-Shields scored a hat-trick for Mounties, but it wasn’t enough in the 64-point thriller. The eventual 24-point margin wasn’t a true reflection on how close the game was.

A massive second half from the Newtown Jets has booked them a place in the second week of finals with a 44-20 victory over Mounties.

Reuben Rennie was explosive on the left for the Jets and posed a constant threat, while the speed and agility of Braydon Trindall and Will Kennedy proved to much for Mounties at the back-end of the game.

Harley Smith-Shields scored a hat-trick for Mounties, but it wasn’t enough in the 64-point thriller. The eventual 24-point margin wasn’t a true reflection on how close the game was.

The Jets took advantage of their first good field position of the match when Scott Sorensen drifted left, dummied and threw a superb offload onto the chest of Tyrone Phillips who scored in the corner.

Matthew Timoko thought he locked the scores up when he dived full stretch to athletically plant the ball down in the right corner for Mounties, but there was an obstruction in the lead-up.

There was no mistake the next time Mounties went over when a right-to-left shift was executed to perfection that gave space for Smith-Shields to stroll over.

Reuben Rennie exploded out of the blocks off the kick-off set to find space down the left-side of the field before he threw a perfect floater over his head to Smith-Shield who has his second try in as many minutes.

Mounties then made it back-to-back-to-back tries when Timoko finished off a left-to-right shift and suddenly Newtown had conceded 16 points without even touching the ball.

The Jets stopped the momentum when they forced a Mounties player into touch off the following kick-off set and they were able to capitalise on the situation when Sione Katoa scored in the right corner to reduce the deficit to eight.

After starting the year on the sideline rehabilitating his ACL, Toby Rudolph worked hard to get himself back playing finals footy and was rewarded for his effort with a strong try under the posts for the Jets that allowed them to claw back 16-14.

Mounties were first to strike in the second half thanks to some brilliance from Rennie. Brendan O’Hagan bounced out of a tackle and threw an offload to create space on the short side, before Rennie threw the miracle pass to Smith-Shields to secure his hat-trick.

The Jets scored the try of the afternoon when Siosifa Talakai threw a great offload to Braydon Trindall who was steaming onto the ball for him to run away and pass to a supporting Will Kennedy to stroll under the posts and make the score 20-all.

It was Newtown’s turn to score consecutive tries when Trindall sold a dummy and burst through for a try, before remarkably doing what Mounties did to them in the first half by scoring back-to-back-to-back tries when Jackson Ferris scored an outstanding long-range try.

The Jets sealed the game with five minutes to go when Scott Sorensen burst through and passed for Ferris to score his second try in a row, before Teig Wilton crossed with a few minutes remaining to make the final score 44-20.

Penrith Panthers v Wentworthville Magpies

Kristy Harris 

Wentworthville Magpies have caused a huge upset against the Penrith Panthers in the Canterbury Cup NSW elimination semi-final, defeating them 34-16 for their fourth consecutive win.

Penrith used strong gusts of wind at Campbelltown Stadium to their advantage in the first ten minutes of the first half with a beautiful 40/20 by halfback Matt Burton.

Penrith looked a threat for Wentworthville when they followed that kick with a try out wide to Frank Winterstein off the back of a dummy pass by hooker Sione Katoa.

In the 20th minute Wenty came back with their first try of the day to fullback Josh Hoffman through the middle of Penrith's defensive line. The Magpies followed that just two minutes later with their second try to No.5 Greg Leleisiuao.

Wentworthville were up 12-6 when prop Oregon Kaufusi came off the bench and used his strength to power his way through the Panthers pack and over the try-line.

Wentworthville was running circles around Penrith with Tim Mannah leading his side forward, dominating tackles and winning the ground possession.

Challenging the line and backing himself in a one-on-one contest, Magpies five-eighth Will Smith finished the second half with another four points to send Penrith into the sheds with a 16-point deficit.

It wasn’t even five minutes into the second half when speed and desire got Smith to the try-line again despite being outnumbered by Penrith jerseys.

The Panthers picked up the pace and scored back-to-back tries by centre Shannon Harris and captain Kaide Ellis within ten minutes, reducing the deficit to 28-16 and still looking a chance at a possible comeback.

Their hope was gone with two minutes to go, Hoffman sealed the deal for the Wentworthville Magpies with his second try to send his team to week two of the Semi-Finals.