The Kaiviti Silktails have pulled off a remarkable comeback to beat the Glebe Dirty Reds 30-22 on Saturday afternoon.
Attack looked the order of the day at Henson Park as sunny conditions greeted both teams.
Looking to get things going quickly, impressive Silktails winger Timoci Bola led a brilliant attack from deep inside his own territory, with only some great scrambling Reds defence saving a try.
That desperation in defence would pay off at the other end of the field for Glebe, as wing Michael Pearsall dotted down untouched in the left-hand corner.
Five minutes later, they were also able to capitalize on the Silktails' struggles under the high ball, as a set move from a scrum saw centre Wyatt Rangi extend the lead to 12-0 following another successful conversion by Manaia Rudolph.
Ill discipline also hampered the Fijian side, seeing the referee issue a warning to captain Apakuki Tavodi. Then moments later, a further indiscretion on the goal line saw hooker Apimeleki Lutuimawi sent to the sin bin.
The ensuing attacking set saw Pearsall continue his red hot try-scoring form as he crossed for his second four-pointer - pushing the Dirty Reds out to a 16-0 lead.
The Silktails desperately needed something special to turn the tide and it came from the player who looked most likely to tear the defence to shreds – Timoci Bola – who swooped on a turnover and raced away to score the visiting team’s first try.
This swung momentum the Silktails' way as they applied repeated pressure to the Reds' line. Hard-running second-rower Malakai Kovekalou came within inches of scoring on a few occasions, but eventually it was Lutuimawi who would redeem himself for the earlier sin-binning by scoring just on halftime. The successful conversion by Waisale Nayavucere saw the Reds' lead shrink to 16-12 at the break.
Glebe suffered a setback early in the second half as interchange forward Michael Stark was forced to leave the field with a serious looking arm injury.
Things would soon get even worse for the home side as Silktails halfback Nayavucere managed to wriggle his way over, despite the attention of numerous tacklers. Another successful conversion saw Kaiviti grab their first lead of the match.
Eight minutes later, Glebe bounced back in front with a line break from five-eighth Josh Natoli, leading to a try by centre John Olive on the next play as the defence was unable to regroup.
The lead wouldn’t last long though, as Silktails centre Inoke Vasuturaga leapt high, won a mid-air battle for the ball, then raced over to score his third try in as many matches, which would also see the Kaiviti reclaim the lead 24-22 with just over 12 minutes remaining.
The final 10 minutes saw a noticeable increase in intensity, with both teams fighting hard to get the win. Every error, big tackle and penalty became amplified, but the Silktails – led by their inspiring supporters on the bank and the introduction of standout Ropate Tobe – finished the stronger side, with the final blow delivered by Vulavou.
The edge forward was rewarded for a strong performance as he stormed on to a beautiful pass by Nayavucere to run through and score the decisive try with just two minutes on the clock. Nayavucere landed the conversion to remain a perfect five from five on the day and the Silktails claimed the win 30-22.
The win snaps a two-game losing streak and keeps the Silktails' playoff hopes alive, while the Dirty Reds suffered their first loss in six matches, with their previous defeat also being at the hands of the Silktails back in April.
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.