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Canterbury Cup NSW Rd 3 – scores, highlights reports

Live coverage of Round 3 of the Canterbury Cup NSW.

The Panthers will look to make it three from three when they host the winless Dragons at home, while the Mounties will look to back up their barnstorming win over the Jets when they take on the Newcastle Knights. 

Wentworthville Magpies v North Sydney Bears
Ringrose Park
Sunday, 31st March – 3.00pm

HIGHLIGHTS | Wentworthville v North Sydney – Round 3

A 40 metre field goal from halfback Brock Lamb has secured the North Sydney Bears a dramatic come-from-behind 21-20 win over a determined Wentworthville Magpies outfit at Ringrose Park.

The game hung in the balance for large periods, with the lead changing hands on five occasions before Lamb atoned for two missed conversion attempts late in the second half, to seal the win for the Bears with his epic field goal, with just seconds left on the clock.

Coming into the game, the home team were significantly strengthened by the late inclusion of NRL regular, centre Josh Hoffman but conversely for the Bears, centre Matt Ikuvalu, was a key withdrawal, replaced by James Tuitahi.

Norths opened the scoring through Ed Murphy in the 11thminute of play after earning several repeat sets inside the opposition’s 20. The try coming off a well worked shift left, with the Magpies’ right edge defence short on numbers. Half Brock Lamb converted from near the touchline to give the away team a dream 6-0 lead.

But the Magpies worked their way back into the game and were rewarded for their efforts with a try in the 27thminute to that man Josh Hoffman and with Brad Keighran’s conversion from out wide, scores were level.

But for the most part, the first half was a grinding affair with neither team able to break the others’ defensive line.

An overzealous tackle by Tautahi saw the deadlock broken after Keighran slotted over the ensuing penalty goal from 30m out, to give the Magpies what seemingly was going to be a 8-6 lead at the main break.

But an error from the kick-off gifted the Bears one last chance to attack the try line and they regained the lead just before the siren sounded, when replacement prop Stefano Hala crashed over from close range to give his side an 12-8 advantage.
The first half was a tight affair but the Magpies blew the game wide open in early in the second half.

Bevan French, who having been switched into the halves by coach Rip Taylor at halftime, was on hand to steal a Keighran inside kick from the grasps of Bears fullback, Kieran Moss to score out wide.

A penalty from the restart, enabled the Magpies to take the biggest lead of the game, when classy hooker, Matt McIllwrick spotted an opening on the Bears defensive line and dived over to score from close range, to push the lead out to 20-12.

But if it was all Magpies in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, it was all Bears in the final 20 as they mounted a dramatic comeback.

A nicely-worked outside-inside play between Sam Verrills and back-rower Sitili Tupouniua, enabled the interchange hooker to score out wide to reduce the gap to four points, before a penalty from the kick-off allowed the visitors to draw level minutes later with a try in the corner to winger Curtis Johnston.

Some steel shown in their goal-line defence gave the visitors one last chance to snatch victory with a minute remaining on the clock and there wasn’t a more relieved man on the ground than the man who kicked the booming field goal from long distance to seal the Bears’ second win in as many weeks.

“Obviously we didn’t ice the game a little bit earlier than that,” Lamb told NSWRL just moments after the game.

“It’s nicely personally to get that field goal but in saying that the boys put me in the perfect spot to nail it after we defended our last two sets on our line.

“I’ve kicked a couple in games before but never towards the end of a game to win it like that before.

“Obviously I pride myself on my goal kicking but I made a terrible attempt earlier to nail one so I knew I had to make up for it and thankfully I did.”

Next Sunday, the Magpies have another home game, this time against 2018 grand finalists, Newtown, while the Bears return home next Saturday to host the defending premiers, Canterbury.

Western Suburbs Magpies v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Campbelltown Stadium
Sunday, 31st March - 2pm

HIGHLIGHTS | Western Suburbs v Canterbury-Bankstown – Round 3

By Blake Edwards

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have come from behind to steal a 26-24 victory over the Wests Magpies at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

There was a lot of talk surrounding this match, with Bulldogs NRL Head Coach Dean Pay wielding the axe throughout the week, dropping numerous players back to the Canterbury Cup NSW, after a poor start to their 2019 campaign.

It was a start both teams would like to have over, having created scoring opportunities, but failing to turn them into points due to unforced errors. Fortunes turned a short while later for Wests when Fullback Dylan Smith fielded a Bulldogs fifth tackle kick, racing seventy-five meters to get his team within scoring rage. A shaky set was finished in style with a classy cross-field kick by experienced half Josh Reynolds, which was cleanly plucked in the in the air by Sam Mcintyre, who planted it down for the hosts first points.

The Bulldogs bounced back through a neat backline move which saw Morgan Harper crash over in the corner, however the grounding looked a little suspect to the naked-eye, but after Referee Damien Briscoe consulted with nearside Touch Judge James Vella, the try was eventually awarded.

Canterbury’s’ good work was quickly undone after dropping it off the restart after points, allowing the Magpies to apply pressure, which they did forcing back-to-back repeat sets. Rake Braden Robson fooled the defence from close range to burrow over under the sticks and extend his sides lead.

A rare error from the Magpies late in the half pathed the way for the visitors to hit back through  dropped NRL winger Christian Crichton, who crossed in the corner to narrow Wests halftime lead to 12-8.

Robson crossed for his second four-pointer of the day immediately after the break, diving on a kick which was toed ahead by and unlikely suspect in McIntyre. The illusive hooker converted it into a hat-trick minutes later, giving Wests a handy sixteen point lead.

The Bulldogs finally awoke from their half-time slumber scoring back-to-back tries,  courtesy of Tuipulotu Katoa and Bronson Garlick to get themselves within four points of the Magpies heading into the final quarter.

The boys from Belmore continued their strong second half with ten left on the clock, with a brilliant team try which was finished off by five-eighth Jesse Marschke, who also converted his own try to gain a 26-24 lead. 

Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles v Warriors
HE Laybutt Fields
Sunday, 31st March - 1pm

HIGHLIGHTS | Blacktown Workers v Warriors – Round 3

By Andrew Jackson

The New Zealand Warriors and Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles remain winless after playing out a thrilling 18-all draw at HE Laybutt Field on Sunday afternoon.

A last-minute penalty brought Blacktown inside the Warriors’ half and presented the home side with one final chance to steal victory but Trent Hodkinson’s conversion fell short.

While Hodkinson provided the Sea Eagles with much-needed composure in his return, it was halfback Zach Dockar-Clay who proved the difference late, scoring a sensational individual try to help his side snatch a draw.

With the Warriors suffering back-to-back heavy defeats in the NRL, head coach Stephen Kearney’s patience is growing thin. And keen to impress, halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita made his mark early, putting up a well-weighted kick to the corner for winger Setu Tu.

The conversion from Harris-Tavita hit the post.

A penalty shortly after the restart further pushed momentum in the visitors’ favour, with hooker Sam Cook catching the Blacktown defenders off guard, racing through the middle off the quick tap before being dragged down 30 metres out.

Slick hands created space on the left edge but the play came undone when Harris-Tavita’s pass skidded over the sideline.

It proved a costly error, with the Sea Eagles earning back-to-back penalties, marching upfield. And a late offload from second rower Haumole Olakauatu put Alfred Smalley over in the right corner to lock things up.

The conversion from the sideline from Hodkinson was unsuccessful.

A shift off the restart down their left edge presented Blacktown with another attacking opportunity, with Leva Li only stopped 40 metres out from the Warriors’ line. But the kick on the last didn’t hold up, trickling dead to relieve pressure.

The Warriors made sure not to make the same mistake minutes later, with Tevita Harris forcing a dropout and it would lead to points. This time it was halves partner Apirana Pewhairangi laying on the points, his grubber sitting up perfectly for centre Patrick Herbert.

The conversion was successful, seeing the visitors take a 10-6 lead midway through the first half.

Pewhairangi sent the ball out on the full las he looked to find touch on the set after points, gifting Blacktown a full set 30 out from the New Zealand line.

And the Sea Eagles capitalised, with Docker-Clay punching a deft kick through for Alfred Smalley. Hodkinson sent the conversion through to tie proceedings once more.

A raid down the left edge, started after a sneaky offload from Tu, sent Adam Pompey steaming down the touchline.

And after drawing a penalty, Tu was rewarded for the lead-up work when he dived over in the corner, beating his opposite number before leapfrogging over the cover defence. The attempted conversion sailed wide, seeing the Warriors head into the sheds leading 14-10.

After weathering three-straight sets on their line, the visitors surged upfield full of confidence off back-to-back penalties. And in what proved a cruel blow for the Sea Eagles, who failed to convert on early possession, the Warriors scored immediately through Pompey.

Harris-Tavita’s conversion from the sideline didn’t have the legs, with the buffer remaining eight points after 53 minutes.

The Sea Eagles had two opportunities to hit back, both off kicks, but failed to ground the ball in both occasions.

But after threatening to burst through all afternoon, Docker-Clay’s footwork eventually fooled the New Zealanders, with the halfback stepping through to score in the 73rd minute.

The successful conversion set up a thrilling finish, with the score line reading 18-16 in favour of the away side.

And minutes later scores were locked up. A surging run from Olakauatu brought Blacktown inside the Warriors’ red zone and desperate to halt momentum, they conceded a penalty, with Hodkinson adding two more points.

Both sides had closing shots at a field goal but were unable to split the sticks, sharing the points.

Penrith Panthers v St George Illawarra Dragons
Panthers Stadium
Saturday, 30th March – 12.45pm
Broadcast LIVE on Fox League

HIGHLIGHTS | Penrith v St George Illawarra – Round 3

Panthers prevail as gallant Dragons fall short

By Kristy Harris

Malakai Watene-Zelezniak and Jarome Luai have inspired the Penrith Panthers to their third consecutive victory with an enthralling 26-24 win over St George Illawarra Dragons at Panthers Stadium on Saturday. 

The game came to a neck and neck finish in the last five minutes with the Dragons fighting their way back from a 12-point deficit in the second-half but were unable to capitalise on their chances in the dying stages. 

Watene-Zelezniak crossed for an early double to get the Panthers off to a flying start while opposing winger Lachlan Maranta crossed for a hat-trick of tries in a starring performance in a losing side. 

But it would be another winger, Brian Too, who gave the Panthers an early lead after he was on the receiving end of a classy offload from centre Mattheson Johns in just the fourth minute of play. 

The Dragons, who had injured skipper Darren Nicholls acting as Team Manager on the sidelines, were playing with plenty of confidence in the opening exchanges but lacked the finishing touches in the absence of their halfback. 

Watene-Zelezniak gave an athletic finish for his first try just eight minutes after Too's effort before Maranta responded with two tries in quick succession to set a 10-8 scoreline. 

Both were courtesy of Jai Field magic with two bullet left-to-right passes from the dynamic five-eighth sending Maranta over within the mere space of seven minutes.  

Some exciting second-phase play gave Watene-Zelezniak his second try in the 33rd minute following a Caleb Aekins grubber as the Panthers held onto a slim 14-8 advantage at half-time. 

A try to Luai six minutes after half-time gave the Panthers some breathing space with a 12-point lead, but just when another try loomed, Dragons winger Jonus Pearson latched onto a Liam Coleman cut-out pass before racing 80m to score.

A wave of momentum was behind the Dragons and they took full advantage through Charly Runciman, after the back-rower burst through from close-range to set a 20-all scoreline.  

A try to Paea Pua broke the deadlock with just under 20 minutes remaining in the game, and although Maranta's third try set up a thrilling finish they were unable to snatch an unlikely victory.

Mounties v Newcastle Knights
Aubrey Keech Reserve
Saturday, 30th March – 3.00pm

HIGHLIGHTS | Mounties v Newcastle – Round 3

Mounties winger Bailey Simonsson reminded Canberra coach Ricky Stuart of his capabilities after grabbing a hat-trick during the 36-12 demolition of the Newcastle Knights in the Canterbury Cup NSW match at Aubrey Keech Reserve on Saturday.

Simonsson grabbed his treble in the second half to build on Mounties halftime lead of 16-6 and effectively put the game out of reach for the visitors.

The 20-year-old played for the Raiders in the opening round of the NRL season but dropped back down to Canterbury Cup NSW after winger Jordan Rapana made a miraculous return from a shoulder injury.

The Knights were the first team to score through backrower Beau Fermor but it was all downhill from there with Mounties piling on six unanswered tries including an opening double to hooker Tom Starling, while Luke Bateman also crossed for a four-pointer to continue his solid early-season form.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Newtown Jets
Metricon High Performance Centre
Sunday, 31st March – 1.10pm
Broadcast LIVE on Channel 9 and 9NOW

HIGHLIGHTS | South Sydney v Newtown - Round 3

By Andre Cupido

A Mawene Hiroti try on the last play of the game has given the South Sydney Rabbitohs an incredible 28-26 victory over the Newtown Jets in a heart stopping contest at Metricon High Performance Centre on Sunday. 

The Jets looked likely to have salvaged a remarkable comeback win of their own as an Aaron Gray try in the 77th minute, and ensuing sideline conversion from Kyle Flanagan, gave them a two-point lead.

Flanagan took the game by the scruff of the neck with a vital try in the 67th minute before having a hand in Gray's final try and two others in the first-half. 

But Hiroti sunk the hearts of the Bluebags faithful after defying the scrambling Jets defence in the left-hand corner just as the full-time siren had sounded.

Rabbitohs halfback Jack Johns credited his side's desperation in the dying stages as a true test of character in a year that's seen the foundation club record three wins to start their 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW season. 

"We were preparing for what we should do if Flanagan was going to miss it – we would kick long and try to defend well, but he got it and we decided to kick short  so luckily it came off," Johns told 

"It does (say a lot) about our team, we have a lot of guys playing out of position and a few of the older boys who have experience and played a few years of (Canterbury) Cup.

"Some of those boys have been in that position before so we planned ahead, and Billy Brittain is a great leader so it worked out for us."

While it was an enthralling finish for the Rabbitohs, it was their opening 10 minutes that was just as strong when Keon Koloamatangi crashed over in the 9th minute.  

Bu the Jets responded in fitting style after Siosifa Talakai finished off some crafty second-phase play which saw Flanagan support a break through the middle-third before placing deft grubber for his centre.

Newtown had a wave of momentum behind them but were unable to capitalise in the period following as the Rabbitohs extended their lead through Johns.

His try was courtesy of a series of late offloads before he fought his way over from close-range as Mawene Hiroti converted adjacent to the uprights to take a handy 12-4 lead after 25 minutes.   

Momentum eventually swung in the Jets favour as Braden Uele and Greg Eastwood laid a strong platform through the middle before the Jets burst into the lead with two tries within the mere space of three minutes.   

Ronaldo Mulitani was the first beneficiary in the 31st minute after a classy backline movement involving Flanagan and William Kennedy, before a Luke Polselli break just three minutes later was finished by a supporting James Segeyaro.

The Rabbitohs had an early chance to snatch back the lead shortly after half-time but some formidable defence from Newtown was able to hold out a desperate Dean Britt. 

But they would reap the rewards in the 50th minute when  Brittain caught the Jets defence napping and snuck his way over from 5m out.

Jacob Gagan would then extend their lead in the 58th minute when he sliced through the Jets defence after a short-side raid on last tackle.

While the Rabbitohs held a comfortable edge over their counterparts, the Jets ensured a fighting finish when Flanagan strolled through a gaping hole off the back of a classy dummy from 10m out.  

The crafty halfback converted his own try as the Rabbitohs held onto a 24-20 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining.  

The Jets found quickly themselves on the attack shortly after and looked to have built pressure with a forced line drop-out, but the Rabbitohs earned a quick reprieve after they took advantage of a short restart.

The Jets efforts in the closing stages were to no avail, however, as Hiroti's match-winning try ensured their perfect start to the season continued.