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Rolling coverage of the Ron Massey Cup Preliminary Finals.

St. Marys Saints v Hills District Bulls

Andrew Jackson

Class proved the difference as St Marys Saints outlasted a spirited Hills District Bulls outfit to record a 32-16 victory on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the 2019 Ron Massey Cup Grand Final.

It sets up an intriguing battle between the second-placed St Marys and first-placed Wentworthville Magpies next weekend, who were separated on the ladder by just one points differential.

Wentworthville won the first meeting between the two sides this year by 40-12 while St Marys were victorious in the second 22-8.

The Bulls had plenty of momentum, heading into the grand-final qualifier off the back of five-straight wins including an upset victory over the fourth-placed Magpies the week prior.

But in reality, they still finished in eighth position with just seven wins from 20 games.

In contrast, St Marys fell just short of the minor premiership, winning 17 games and losing just three during the regular season.

It appeared a complete mismatch on paper and the first half reflected that.

Kurt Falls starred early, running in a try and setting up one of his own as St Marys charged to a 26-0 lead by the break.

The nifty halfback opened the scoring when he took the line on and reached out to plant the ball down in the third minute.

Falls then put Maliko Filino over in the left corner with a lovely cut-out pass.

A simple overlap saw Christopher Aunese-Scanlon slice through before Maliko Filino powered over a couple of minutes later as St Marys surged further ahead.

Winger Christopher McCoy raced away for the Bulls in a rare try-scoring opportunity but was dragged down by Falls on the halfway line.

Hills hooker Heath L’Estrange was then sin-binned in the 35thminute as frustrations boiled to the surface and St Marys took full advantage as Jake Toby sliced through flimsy defence on the left edge.

While the Bulls were hardly in the contest, they were given a faint glimmer of hope when Filino was sent to the sin bin in the 42ndminute for interference on a quick tap.

Errors initially saw them squander the opportunity before David Baumann showed the way, doing it all himself as he muscled his way over next to the posts.

They then went back-to-back as a break from McCoy created an overlap on the right edge, finished off by Rhys Walpole.

Soon after they had their third of the afternoon as Meimeite Siale crossed over to reduce the deficit to just 10 points.

St Marys were suddenly under enormous pressure to hold out a Bulls side brimming with confidence.

But the tide quickly turned when they forced Hills back in-goal off the restart and a pinpoint grubber from Falls saw centre Marli Sini score.

It proved enough to halt the Bulls’ momentum and take St Marys into the decider next week.

Wentworthville Magpies v Mounties

Hannah McGrory

The Wentworthville Magpies have secured a ten-point victory after an intense battle between the Mounties at Netstrata Jubilee Oval 22-12.

It was a grinding start for both teams and took 27 minutes for the first points of the game to be scored.

The Magpies managed to secure the win with two tries in the final ten minutes through Eli Roberts and Jack Minhinnick. 

The Mounties defended three consecutive sets however they made an unforced error in the next set to turnover possession.

The yellow and black came close to crossing following a penalty however the winger couldn’t hold on to the ball as it spilled over the dead ball line.

Following their second 40/20 attempt, Wenty scored the first points of the game through the fullback Eparama Navele with an unsuccessful conversion.

Mounties then received a penalty after Wenty were ruled being slow in the ruck and opted to take the tap. Jarrod Brackenhofer barged his way over under the posts for the Mounties first four-pointer of the match. The conversion was successful from Sam Duggan to give them a 6-4 lead heading into the sheds at half time.

It remained heated between the two teams with a penalty being awarded to Wenty. Wenty capitalised on the opportunity and went to score through Haveatarna Luani. The conversion was successful.

Mounties then kicked the ball out on the full from the restart awarding Wenty with another set of six. As they were awarded the penalty they opted to take the two points and Beau Henry kicked the penalty goal. 

Mounties responded seven minutes later through Daniel Roberts crossing the line. The conversion was successful from Sam Duggan locked up the scores at 12-all.

The Mounties ill-discipline cost them as they continued to make unforced errors.

The rain started to fall with 13 minutes to go, and the scores continued to be level at 13-all.

In the 71st minute the Magpies secured the win after scoring through Eli Roberts followed by another four-pointer 9 minutes later, through Josh Minhinnick.