An unfortunate field goal in the final minutes saw the Western Suburbs Magpies suffer their second loss of the season last Saturday afternoon going down 25-24 against old rivals the North Sydney Bears.
Magpies halfback Josh Drinkwater was the first to put points on the Ken Irvine scoreboard at North Sydney oval on Saturday, beating two North Sydney defenders to the line and later converting giving his side a six-nil lead after 10 minutes.
A left foot step from Drinkwater saw himself straight through a gap in the Bear’s defence, with support from Tui Lolohea who scored his first for the afternoon. Wests extended their lead to 12-nil in just as many minutes.
For the next 10 minutes, the Magpies kept onto the Bears, showing no mercy in defence, holding the Bears out despite having numerous opportunities to score.
Back to back penalties award to the Magpies saw them march up the field with ease, still putting pressure on their defensive opponents. Braden Robson saw an opportunity and put a grubber through for Watson Heleta who scored his first of the afternoon in the corner. Drinkwater widened the margin to 18-nil after a slim sideline conversion.
In the last 10 minutes of the first half, the Bears made Wests pay for their mistakes with two quick tries from Rhys Kennedy and Captain Billy Brittain with Dean Hawkins successful in only one of his two conversion attempts, closing in on the Magpies at the break leaving the field 18-10.
Keeping the momentum from the end of the first half, the Bears were first to score after the break with Ky Rodwell crashing over the Magpies defensive line to get himself the four points and Hawkins again adding the extras.
Collecting a Robson grubber kick, Lucas Price extended his team’s lead by four more points with 16 minutes remaining, Drinkwater extended the lead with a timely conversion, giving the visitors a 6 point lead.
Viliami Kaveinaga made a break from dummy half, going straight through the middle of the Magpies defence, offloading to Mawene Hiroti who scored just left of the post. Hawkins was successful in his conversion, leaving a two point difference.
A high tackle from Chris McQueen saw the Bears take a penalty goal from right in front to level the score at 24-all. With just a minute remaining, popped a field goal from 25 metres out, giving the homeside a one point advantage over the Magpies.
North Sydney Bears 25 (Rhys Kennedy, Billy Brittain, Ky Rodwell, Mawene Hiroti tries; Dean Hawkins 4/5) def. Western Suburbs Magpies 24 (Josh Drinkwater, Tui Lolohea, Watson Heleta, Lucas Price tries; Josh Drinkwater 4/4 goals)
Wests Magpies hosted Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The ground and playing surface was presented in excellent condition.
The game was only three minutes old when Blacktown put in a clever kick which was forced in goal by Wests Magpies. After collecting the ball from the line drop out near the half way line, Blacktown forwards carried the ball deep into Magpie territory. As Blacktown spread the ball wide, the referee penalised the Magpies for being offside. Five eight Veiru Mapesone took a quick tap before combining with his outside men to put wing three quarter Peter Schuster over in the eastern corner. Kamren Cryer missed with his conversion attempt. Blacktown 4 Wests Magpies 0.
Over the ensuing twenty minutes or so, both teams failed to hold onto the ball resulting in several scrums being packed at both ends of the field. During this time both sides were in good scoring positions, but unforced errors put paid to any chance they had to score. It wasn’t until the 24th minute that Blacktown added to the score line. Fullback Jake Pickering, showing a clean pair of heals, evaded the defense in a fine 50 metre run. He sprinted towards the Magpie 20 metre line and looked certain to score when Magpie second row forward Inno Inosesio, who had just been treated for an injury, picked himself up off the ground and brought off a great one on one tackle. Unfortunately, the Magpie defense did not have the time to regroup and as a result Blacktown centre Leva Li dived into the eastern corner to score. Cryer failed to add the extras. Blacktown 8 Wests Magpies 0.
Wests Magpies quickly rallied and put on three unanswered tries. The first try was scored in the 30th minute after their forwards combined with their backs to carry the ball to Blacktown’s 10 metre line. Magpie hooker Kurt Aldridge ran from dummy half and looked to have scored under the black dot, but strong defense pushed him back into the field of play. Not to be outdone lock forward Luke Williams moved into dummy half and repeated the move but this time he was able to get the ball down to record his team’s first points. Brendan Waters added the extras reducing the deficit to just two points. Blacktown 8 Wests Magpies 6.
Three minutes later Kilifi Tia-Kilifi scored a fine individual try after his team mates pushed the ball deep into Blacktown’s half. After being popped an inside pass by Avia Minute, Kilifi carried four defenders over the line with him. The referee was in a good position to point to the spot for Wests second try. Waters claimed the extra 2 points, putting his team in front 12 points to 8.
Right on half time second row forward David Minute brushed through several defenders before putting the ball into the hands of wing three quarter Pulonga Kavaefiafi who planted the ball over the line untouched. Waters conversion attempt fell short. Wests Magpies 16 Blacktown 8.
The second half was barely underway when fullback Kelsey Coakes collected a high ball. He sprinted towards the opposition try line but was tackled agonisingly short. In the following play Avia Minute, after drawing 2 defenders to him, slipped a pass to his brother David who was help up over the try line.
A few minutes later, after claiming the ball from a line drop out, half and captain Brendan Waters threw a long pass to wing three quarter Peter Pakoti. Despite being pulled towards the turf, Pakoti off loaded to second row forward Inno Inosesio who scored adjacent to the goal posts. Waters added the extras. Wests Magpies 22 Blacktown 8.
From the ensuing kick-off, a Magpie player knocked the ball on near his own 20 metre line. Blacktown won the scrum and spread the ball to five eight Veiru Mapesone who weaved his way through the Magpies outside men to score under the posts. Cryer was successful with his kick. Magpies lead to 22 points to 14.
Unfortunately for Blacktown they also knocked the ball on from the resumption in play. After winning the scrum, a Wests Magpies player was hit high resulting in a penalty being awarded. Second row forward David Minute received the ball from a quick tap before placing the ball under the black dot. Waters made sure of the conversion increasing the Magpies lead to 28 points to Blacktown’s 14. David Minute then made his way to the side line after receiving a knock. He had made several damaging runs backed up by strong defence.
From this point on, errors creeped into the Magpies game. Blacktown seized the chance and in the 27th minute their fullback Jake Pickering crossed in the eastern corner and with the successful conversion from Cryer the Magpies lead was reduced to 28 points to 20. Two minutes later Pickering was in again with Cryer adding the extras. Wests Magpies 28 Blacktown 26.
In the 32nd minute Mapesone scored his second try of the afternoon. It came after Wests Magpies failed to control the ball. Mapesone gathered in the bouncing ball to score under the posts. Cryer added the two from a simple position. Blacktown 32 Magpies 28.
Wests Magpies restarted play with a towering kick which was knocked on by a Blacktown player. After winning the scrum, Wests hooker Kurt Aldridge ran from
dummy half and as he attempted to place the ball over the line for what would have been a match winning try, he unluckily knocked the ball on. Right on fulltime, Blacktown received a penalty which gave them good field position. Their fullback Jake Pickering capped off a fine game when he scored his third try of the afternoon and with Cryer’s successful conversion, Blacktown ran out winners 38 points to Wests Magpies 28.
Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 38 (Jake Pickering 3, Veiru Mapesone 2, Peter Schuster, Leva Li) def. Western Suburbs Magpies 28 (Pulonga Kavaefiafi, Luke Williams, Kilifi Tia-Kilifi, Inno Inosesio, David Minute)