Competition leaders Mounties just did enough to edge out a fast-finishing Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs side 22-20 in an entertaining Intrust Super Premiership NSW match at Aubrey Keech Reserve last night.
In a match where both sides had their chances, the Mulga made the most of their opportunities and held on in defence in the closing stages to move a step closer to the minor premiership.
Mounties didn’t take long to establish an early lead when halfback Sam Williams laid on a grubber kick in goal for Maurice Kennedy to pounce on the ball in goal to score. Williams converted for Mounties to lead 6-0.
Canterbury replied in the eighth minute when winger Marcelo Montoya finished a well worked move down the left to score in the corner for 6-4.
The Bulldogs’ best period of the match followed over the next 15 minutes as they controlled possession and field position. This was capped by opposite winger Tyrone Phillips getting on the end of quick hands to score in the right corner in the 17th minute. Brad Abbey converted from touch to give the visitors a deserved 10-6 lead.
Classy Papua New Guinea Kumuls winger Kato Ottio then made his presence felt with his now customary two tries late in the first half.
Ottio’s first came from another Willams grubber and his second from a neat move down the right to give the flyer 24 tries for the season. Williams converted both tries to give Mounties an 18-10 lead at the half time break.
When Bulldogs second-rower Lamar Liolevave was sin binned by referee Liam Nicholls for a professional foul six minutes into the second half, Mounties took full advantage when winger Alofi Mataele strolled over to score in the corner to extend the Mulga lead to 22-10.
However, Canterbury refused to roll over. The Bulldogs held their own in the arm wrestle that followed for the next 15 minutes while not conceding any more points for the night – let alone while Liolevave served his time in the sin bin.
Montoya bagged his second try with 18 minutes to play when he got on the end of another backline movement to get the Bulldogs within striking distance at 22-14.
After holding on for three repeat sets of Mounties pressure after not finding touch from a penalty, Canterbury set up a grandstand finish when Montoya sent in a superb centre kick on the last tackle for half Harry Siejka to win the race to the ball to score with four minutes left.
Abbey nailed the conversion and Canterbury had narrowed the Mounties lead to 22-20.
Canterbury could not produce a miracle last winning play in the last couple of minutes as a relieved Mounties held on in defence to secure their victory.
Mounties can clinch the Minor Premiership if either results go their way over the rest of the weekend - or if they can defeat Newtown in a mouth-watering match of the round next Saturday. Canterbury will try to keep their finals hopes alive when they take on the New Zealand Warriors at the Belmore Sports Ground next Saturday.
Mounties 22 (K Ottio 2, M Kennedy, A Mataele tries; S Williams 3 goals) def Canterbury-Bankstown 20 (M Montoya 2, H Siejka, T Phillips tries; B Abbey 2 goals)