It wasn’t quite the fairy tale finish the Wentworthville Magpies were after but their stunning finals run is something they can be proud of.
Finishing seventh on the competition ladder at the end of the regular season, the Magpies stormed into the 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW Grand Final with three dominant performances in the finals series.
That included a 35-10 thumping of the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the Preliminary Final, just a week after eliminating 2018 premier Bulldogs with a thrilling 26-20 win.
You could put it down to their world-class roster they managed to accrue at the backend of the season, or even the leadership of Tim Mannah and guidance of coach Rip Taylor that helped them defy the odds at the business end of the year.
Their six-game unbeaten streak gave them a wealth of confidence heading into the decider against the Jets, and although they were endured a heartbreaking defeat in extra-time, it’s a season they can look back on with enormous pride and confidence.
Their highlight moment
Preliminary Final v South Sydney Rabbitohs – 35-10 W
The Wentworthville Magpies couldn’t have timed their run any better with THER first win over a six-game unebeaten streak coming in Round 22 against the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles.
But their highlight, undoubtedly, was their thumping 35-10 win over South Sydney to send them into the decider in emphatic style.
Josh Hoffman opened the scoring in the fifth minute before Andrew Davey extended their lead just moments later, setting up a handy 20-10 advantage at half-time.
They failed to let down in the second-half, producing two tries and stonewall defence to shut-out the foundation club and set their sights on a fairy-tale Grand Final appearance at Bankwest Stadium.
Simply the best
If you’re wondering why Greg Leleisiuao was so great this year there’s two statistics that sum it up perfectly.
In his 26 appearances this season, he recorded an astonishing 196 tackle-breaks – 92 clear of Newtown Jets livewire William Kennedy.
Better yet, he recorded 4512m and averaged 173m per game – 500m more than Dragons forward Lachlan Timm.
It was an incredible effort that typifies how destructive he was this campaign, as he also amassed 12 tries, and 15 line-breaks.
He deservedly earned his place on the wing in the 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW Team of the Year.
Room for improvement
The Magpies won nine of their 12 fixtures leading into the Grand Final but consistency will be imperative for them in 2020.
The Magpies failed to record back-to-back wins through the first-half of the competition, with their first set of consecutive wins coming in Round 15-17.
That would follow with three losses prior to their six-game unbeaten streak, although can take confidence from 10 of their 14 wins coming against top eight sides.
Soward’s season grading
For a team that struggled with depth at the start of the year, Rip Taylor continued to get the best out of players who got dropped from first-grade is outstanding.
They made the Grand Final and although they were unlucky with a heart-breaking loss in the closing stages they can be incredibly proud of their efforts.
This season grading is the opinion of Jamie Soward, based purely on performance factors throughout the 2019 season, and does not nessecarily reflect the views of NSWRL.