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Silktails go down in a heartbreaker

Gerard Cronin

Mounties won a thriller 21-20 over the Kaiviti Silktails, in a Ron Massey Cup match that came right down to the final seconds at Mascot Oval on Saturday.

After a fairly even opening, Mounties led the scoring in the ninth minute as second rower Kane McQuiggin crashed over for a try down the left edge.

The Silktails answered back in spectacular fashion, as left wing Josua Waqavesi spun past his opposite number, showed some twinkle toes down the sideline, then raced away to level the scores at 4-4 in the 17th minute.

Waqavesi very nearly had another breakaway at the half hour mark, however, this time was ruled to have placed a foot in touch. That gave Mounties the ball inside the Silktails half and smart lead up play saw McQuiggin again forcing his way over for his second try to put Mounties back on top 8-4, which remained the score until half time.

The second half was barely underway as the Silktails right wing Vuate Karawalevu levelled the scores again – grabbing a cut out pass and waltzing in for a try in the corner, following some blistering attack.

Mounties answered back just four minutes later though, as Cleveland McGhie – usually a second rower, but filling in at centre – managed to reach over, after a well-worked attacking set.

McGhie would cross again in the 52nd minute, as he steamed on to a beautiful pass by captain Harry Leddy. That try became the first of the afternoon to be converted, as Mounties jumped out to an 18-8 lead.

The Silktails hopes seemed to take a further hit, as centre Tomasi Vunicagi was sent the sin bin, although it actually managed to galvanise the Fijian side, as they swung momentum back with a converted try to fullback Ropate Tobe which narrowed the margin to 18-14 with 16 minutes remaining.

As the match moved into the latter stages, the passionate home Fijian crowd grew in voice with loud cheering and singing, which spurred the Silktails on to another try by winger Karawalevu, which was converted by Waisale Nayavucere, to give them a 20-18 lead.

However, a head high tackle penalty by the Kaiviti side with 3 minutes left, gave Mounties a kick to level the scores at 20-all.

Moments later, a costly turnover then gave Mounties a chance to steal it, as captain Harry Leddy stepped up and calmy landed a field goal in the final 10 seconds of the match, to hand his side the narrowest of victories.

Kaiviti Silktails coach Wes Naiqama said his side were “still looking for that 80-minute performance” and lamented a lack of game management at crucial times, while Mounties coach Brock Sheppherd labelled it a “strange old game”, but praised his side’s resilience after overcoming multiple injuries, leaving them with an empty bench for the last 15 minutes.

The Silktails’ participation in the NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup is proudly supported by the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports.

The NSWRL receives funding from the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports to support the Silktails’ participation in the NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup.