Written By: Rebecca Westlake
A strong defensive performance from the Western Suburbs Magpies saw them claim their seventh victory last Sunday morning against the Penrith Panthers at North Sydney Oval.
Western Suburbs were given the advantage early on, after Liam Coleman was sin-binned for a professional foul. The Magpies capitalized their one-man advantage, with Watson Heleta collecting a grubber from five-eight Tyson Gamble to score in the corner.
After a handful of penalties, Penrith would benefit from their repeat sets and even the score with Jarome Luai, who skimmed past the Magpies defence almost untouched.
With the return of Coleman and a 40/20 kick from Luai, the Panthers took the lead with Caleb Aekins scoring his first of the afternoon, after a classy cross field play. The conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the Magpies trailing by four with 15 minutes remaining in the first stanza.
Benefiting from back-to-back penalties and advancing up field, Wests regained the lead when Tui Lolohea found the hands of Heleta, sending the winger over for his second try of the afternoon.
With 2 minutes remaining in the second half, the Magpies extended their lead with JJ Felise finding a gap and scoring just next to the uprights, Lolohea converted to make it 18-10 at the break.
The Panthers returned to the field with nothing short of determination, after a Coleman line break saw the Magpies momentum from the first half dampened. However, a scrambling yet tough Magpies defence turned the Panthers away, protecting their line.
A close called for Sam McIntyre came soon after, with the forward almost grounding the ball in the in-goal area but was beaten by his opposition who knocked the ball into touch, resulting in a goal line drop out.
Aekins produced an exciting game changer, after a solo sprint down the sideline to score what he thought would be the match winning try, but was ruled to have stepped into touch.
The Magpies defence remained intact, turning the Panthers away multiple times despite having majority of the second half possession and a high penalty count in their advantage. With both teams unable to concede any points in the second half, the full time score remained 18-10.
Western Suburbs Magpies 18 (Heleta 2, Felise tries; Lolohea 3/3 goals) def. Penrith Panthers 10 (Luai, Aekins tries; Keighran 1/2 goals)
Written By: Steve Reeves
The stage was set for a great struggle between these traditional rivals. If the results in the past were to be an indication of the closeness of today’s match, we were in for a good day at the footy.
The early stages saw both team testing each other out but it was Wests Magpies who took the early chances. In the 3rd minute, half and captain Brendan Waters attacked the short side before slipping the ball to young fullback Isaac Rabuatoka who after being ankle tapped, come to rest inches from the line. Minutes later another chance to bring points to the board was stopped by Cabramatta’s scrambling defense.
In the 15th minute Cabramatta was attacking the Magpies line when a cut out pass was collected by Magpies wing three quarter James Tautaiolefua. He showed good pace as he ran down the western side of the ground before being taken to ground on the opposition’s 10 metre line. The ball was spread to five eight Kurt Aldridge who looked certain to score under the posts before he was hit high. After taking the penalty tap, Waters flung the ball to second row forward David Minute who somehow got the ball away inches from the ground. It was picked up by fullback Isaac Rabuatoka who dived over in the eastern coroner. From a wide angle Aldridge guided the ball between the sticks. Wests Magpies 6 Cabramatta 0.
As in other recent games, penalties became an issue for both teams with several being awarded for infringements in the play the ball area. Cabramatta had their chances; in the 25th minute centre three quarter Shane Kiel was brought down by a copy book tackle from lock forward Inno Inosesio which thwarted Kiel’s attempt to score under the posts. It wasn’t until the 30th minute that the Magpies had the chance to increase their lead. A number of dashing runs from Inosesio, David Minute and Tom Morrison took the Magpies to the opposition’s 10 metre line. On the last tackle Aldridge rolled the ball into the in goal area. Showing good speed and positioning, Rabuatoka outpaced the defence, diving on the ball to claim his second try of the afternoon. Aldridge made no mistake with the conversion. Wests Magpies 12 Cabramatta 0.
With a minute or so left in the first half, play was set on the Magpies 30 metre line. On the last tackle, Cabramatta drove the ball into the Magpies defense. Unbelievably the ball bounced off a Magpie player straight into the hands of Don Thompson, the opposition fullback who showed a clean pair of heels before delivering a pass to wing three quarter Falakiko Manu who scored in the eastern corner. The conversion attempt by Rafferty-Butfield drifted wide as the hooter sounded half time. Wests Magpies 12 Cabramatta 4. If not for the last ditch effort by a couple of Cabramatta players, Wests could have gone into the break with a few more points on board. An entertaining half of football.
The penalty count in the second half continue to grow and unfortunately for the home team it resulted in them having to repeatedly defend their line. They remained stout, but in the 19th minute Cabramatta would cut into the Magpies lead. On the last tackle, Cabramatta continued their theme of running the ball rather than putting up a kick. It paid dividends when Don Thompson took off before throwing a pass to lock forward Tala Mapasone, who was playing wide all day. Mapasone broke through a tackle to score in the western corner. The crowd through the tackle on Mapasone had been made, but the referee had other ideas and awarded the try. The shot at goal by Don Thompson hit the upright and was waved away. Wests Magpies 12 Cabramatta 8.
Within minutes, Cabramatta again found themselves probing the Magpies line. Firstly, replacement forward and former NRL player Frank Pritchard carried defenders over the try line, but the referee ruled he was held up. Similarly, second row forward Jessie Martin found himself in the same position when his claim for a try was knocked back. Once more the Two Blues ran the ball on the last and after a weaving run Don Thompson pushed his way over adjacent to the uprights. He converted his own try taking his side into the lead for the first time. Cabramatta 14 Wests Magpies 12.
This was to be the final score of the afternoon despite valiant attempts by the Magpies to grab the win. The boys tackled themselves to a standstill. It was a disappointing loss, but the Magpies showed they are certainly improving and will be a force in this competition. A couple of the boys were on the end of heavy tackles; showing plenty of courage they remained in the game and never took a backward step.
Wests Magpies. 2 tries to Isaac Rabuatoka and 2 conversions to Kurt Aldridge. Best for the Magpies. Isaac Rabuatoka, Inno Inosesio, Josh Davis, Brendan Waters and Junior Mapasone.
Cabramatta. 1 try each to Falakiko Manu, Tala Mapasone & Don Thompson. Don Thompson kicked one from two. J Rafferty-Butfield missed with his attempt at goal. Best for Cabramatta. Jason Thompson, Jessie Martin, Tala Mapesone & Don Thompson.