By Keith Topolski
A resurgent Newcastle Knights forced Western Suburbs to pull out all the stops to secure a 24-20 victory at Campbelltown.
Coming off a 58-4 lapping at the hands of Newtown seven days earlier, the Knights took no time in making clear their intentions with Pat Mata’utia leaping above Mahe Fonua to open the scoring, the Knights doubling down in the 11th minute as a bouncing ball eluded Tui Lolohea and fell fortuitously to Thomas Cronan.
The Knights were playing without a care in the world and gave the ball some air from the restart, three tackles of work seeing Tom Hughes bolt away down the left flank with Tui Lolohea unable to make up the difference.
The Knights’ third try seemed to spur the Magpies into action with some strong defence getting under the skin of Brock Lamb, Wests taking advantage by marching downfield and putting Sam McIntyre over from a Josh Drinkwater grubber into the in-goal just before the quarter mark.
Despite Wests dominating proceedings it took until the 33rd minute for the Magpies to post their second, Matt McIlwrick’s short ball just the tonic for Joseph Ratu to power his way in under the uprights, Danny Levi unable to increase the Knights’ 14-12 lead with a penalty goal attempt after the siren.
Just as the Knights began the scoring on their first touch on the first stanza so did Wests in the second act, a Josh Drinkwater kick back to the posts collected the padding to sit down for Tyson Gamble to give the home side their first lead of the afternoon.
A quick tap found Newcastle losing Pasami Saulo for ten minutes courtesy of a professional foul, but the Magpies committed the cardinal sin of leaking a try while a man up as Sam Stone strolled through a gap untouched with Danny Levi’s conversion putting the Knights up by two entering the final 20 minutes.
Wests turned the momentum once again but found a Newcastle brick wall which was impossible to go through, so Josh Drinkwater obliged by going around and over 13 minutes from time with a looping ball for Mahe Fonua’s sixth try of the season, the fourth Wests try of the day proving just enough to hold off a desperate Knights at the death.
WESTERN SUBURBS 24 (Sam McIntyre, Joseph Ratu, Tyson Gamble, Mahe Fonua tries: Josh Drinkwater 4 from 4) defeated NEWCASTLE 20 (Pat Mata’utia, Thomas Cronan, Tom Hughes, Sam Stone tries; Brock Lamb 1 from 3, Danny Levi 1 from 2)
By Stephen Reeves
Wests Magpies played their 2nd home game in a row with their 3rd clash against Glebe Burwood Wolves. I have to report it was not to be Wests Magpies day with some freakish tries scored by the opposition but overall they outplayed the Magpies; the faithful know that the coaching staff and players will turn things around.
The first try of the afternoon came in the 4th minute when Glebe Burwood’s five eight Penani Manumalealii delivered a banana kick on Wests Magpies 10 metre line. The ball bounced off the cross bar straight into the hands of hooker Benjamin Marschke who crossed under the black dot for a four pointer. Centre three quarter Addison Demetriou converted from in front of the uprights to post an early 6 points to 0 lead.
Wests Magpies hit back a few minutes later after they found touch from the kick off. After winning the scrum the point of attack was switched to the western side of the field by 2nd row forward David Minute who threw a cut out pass to winger Pulonga Kavaefiafi who crashed over for a good try taking the corner post with him. Brendan Waters conversion attempt was waved away. Glebe Burwood 6 Wests Magpies 4.
Glebe Burwood scored the 3 more converted tries after being gifted a glut of possession. The 1st came after they also found touch from their kick off. Their forwards carried the ball towards Wests Magpies end of the field before Manumalealii put in a grubber kick behind the defensive line. The ball took an awkward sideways bounce which was gathered in by lock forward George Tsikrikas who claimed the try. Demetriou increased his team’s advantage to 12 points to 4.
For the remainder of the 2nd half Wests Magpies were forced to defendant their line for several sets. Simply put they did not have an opportunity with the ball. After repelling Glebe Burwood’s advances for 4 sets in a row, their 2nd row forward Royce Tout dived over for his teams 3rd try which was converted by Demetriou. Glebe Burwood 18 Wests Magpies 4.
In the 27th minute a strong tackle by a Wests forward forced the ball from the hands of an opposition player. The referee missed the knock on, ruling 6 again. A quick play caught the defense off guard allowing Glebe Burwood’s prop Malaki Houma to force his way over. The conversion by Demetriou took his team to a commanding 24 to 4 lead. To make things more difficult, a Magpie player was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes which would see him take no further part in the first half.
The Magpies, after controlling the ball for a couple of sets, were rewarded when second row forward Inno Inosesio made a barnstorming run some 30 metres into Glebe Burwood’s territory. Wests received a penalty for an infringement in the
play the ball and this time it was the opposition who were caught out when Wests Magpies half and captain Brendan Waters put Inosesio through a gap to score on the eastern side of the ground. Hooker Kurt Aldridge converted the try form a wide angle. Glebe Burwood 24 Wests Magpies 10.
The momentum quickly changed in the 37th minute when Glebe Burwood received a relieving penalty which gave them a good attacking opportunity on Wests Magpies 20 metre line. After moving the ball wide of the ruck, their fullback Latrell Schaumkel chimed into the line to score his teams 5th try of the afternoon. Demetriou guided the ball between the uprights. Glebe Burwood 30 Wests Magpies 10.
In the dying seconds of the first half, Wests Magpies received the ball from a knock on 10 metres from Glebe Burwood’s line. It looked as if Wests Magpies would go into the break with another try on their card when prop forward Andrew Fiagatusu carried 3 players over the line. It was not to be and as the half time hooter rang, the referee made the call that Fiagatusu had been held up over the line.
During the first 15 minutes or so of the second half, Wests Magpies made several strong runs however they came away pointless. On the other hand, Glebe Burwood got back into the thick of things when Manumalealii feigned to kick on the last before offloading to Tsikrikas who scored his 2nd try of the day. Demetriou was successful with the conversion. Glebe Burwood 36 Wests Magpies 10.
Wests Magpies showed promising signs when fullback Kelsey Coakes put in a kick which rolled into the oppositions in goal. A hard chasing Josh Davis dived onto the ball, but the linesman ruled that his foot had touched the sideline. Errors at crucial times put an end to a number of promising raids by the Magpies; Glebe Burwood made sure they capitalised on those errors.
In the 25th minute their centre three quarter Charlton Schaafhausen finished a sweeping backline movement to claim a 4 pointer. Demetriou missed with his conversion attempt. Glebe Burwood 40 Wests Magpies 10.
Three more tries, two converted by Demetriou and one by half Jessie Marschke would round off an unfortunate day for Wests Magpies. Glebe Burwood’s five eight Penani Manumalealii continued to impress when he made a darting run before off-loading to 2nd row forward Ahmad Ellaz who placed the ball over the line. The remaining 2 tries were scored from towering bombs which came down on Wests Magpies try line. The 1st was claimed by Schaafhausen who scored his 2nd try with replacement Tyla Tamou finishing things off when he outjumped a Wests Magpies defender. Glebe Burwood Wolves 58 points to Wests Magpies 10.
Glebe Burwood Wolves. 2 tries to Charlton Schaafhausen and George Tsikrikas, with 1 try each to Latrell Schaumkel, Malaki Houma, Benjamin Marschke, Royce Tout, Ahmad Ellaz and Tyla Tamou. Addison Demetriou kicked 8 goals from 9 attempts and Jesse Marschke kicked a goal from his only attempt.
Wests Magpies. Tries to Pulonga Kavaefiafi and Inno Inosesio with Kurt Aldridge kicking 1 from 1. Brendan Waters missed with his only attempt.