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Canterbury Cup NSW Rd 24 – scores, highlights, reports

Rolling coverage of the final round of the 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW season.

Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles v Penrith Panthers

HIGHLIGHTS | Blacktown v Penrith - Rd 24

Andrew Jackson

Reports have come out that Kane Elgey may be considering retirement but he certainly didn’t look like he had nothing else to offer the game as he led the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles to a 42-34 upset win over the Panthers at HE Laybutt Field.

Elgey was a constant threat at the back, setting up two tries and scoring two of his own as Blacktown raced out to a 32-6 half-time lead.

With Tom Trbojevic set to spend the rest of the season on the sideline and Manly’s NRL side entrenched in the top eight, Elgey could be a left-field option to fill in the number one jersey.

It was a disappointing performance from a Penrith side with a top-four spot to play for.

Instead, they now face a do-or-die elimination finals meeting with Wentworthville Magpies.

The Sea Eagles went over first after a great ball from Zach Docker-Clay to a charging Francis Laloua-Tui.

The recent news of Apisai Koroisau’s departure at the end of the year means there will be a spot open in Manly’s bench, with Manase Fainu expected to start at hooker.

And Docker-Clay put his hand up with a strong performance, his running game in particular proving dangerous.

Elgey then scored the first of his two tries when he was backing up in the middle for Cade Cust.

The former Titan then set up Tim Simona off a lovely cut-out pass before topping it and throwing a spectacular looping ball for Jade Anderson who kicked ahead to score.

It was a masterclass from Elgey who later got on the outside and stepped back into the middle and through the Penrith defence.

The Panthers eventually troubled the scoreboard when Matt Burton took on the line and tossed it onto Reed Izzard.

But the celebrations proved short-lived as a lovely kick from Cust saw Anderson dive over for his second.

Matheson Johns opened the second half with a try for Penrith but they couldn’t build on it as Simona crossed over early in the second half to re-establish Blacktown’s dominant lead.

Brendan Hands then forced his way over for the Panthers before a later break ended with Charlie Staines streaking away.

Former Panther Andy Saunders then surged over to put a dent in Penrith’s hope of a comeback.

The Panthers refused to roll over though as Shannon Harris fought in a tackle before offloading for Johns to go over for his second of the day.

The revival continued as Hame Sele barged up towards the posts and found the strength to pop a late pass for Kaide Ellis.

It wasn’t enough though as Blacktown held on with a win to finish their year on a high.

Mounties v North Sydney Bears

HIGHLIGHTS | Mounties v North Sydney - Rd 24

Rebecca Szabo

The North Sydney Bears have beaten Mounties in the final round of the regular season with a 19-6 victory at Aubrey Keech Reserve on Saturday.      

They Bears opened their account with ease in the early exchanges, with Lachlan Lam producing  a cut out ball for Bernard Lewis to dive over the line.

The Bears continued to gift Mounties valuable field position with countless penalties throughout the first-half, with Tony Satini captilising for their first try of the afternoon.

Sam WIlliams converted to set a 6-4 scoreline after 10 minutes of play. 

Tries to Freddy Lussick and Bradley Deitz within a relentless eight-minute period midwya through the first-half ensured an eventual 14-6 scoreline at half-time  

The Bears didn’t look comfortable with their lead and rightfully so, Mounties looked sure to score on numerous occasions however missed the opportunity with countless handling errors. 

Neither team could break the deadlock in the second half, and it took until the 7nd minute for the Bears to strike with Jamies Tuitahi breaking through to score adjacent ot the uprights. 

Lachlan Lam was unable to convert, although iced the victory with a field goal in the dying stages. 

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wentworthville Magpies

HIGHLIGHTS | South Sydney v Wentworthville - Rd 24

Blake Edwards

The Wentworthville Magpies have secured their spot in the 2019 finals after an impressive 26-16 victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Redfern Metricon High Performance centre on Saturday afternoon.

There was added pressure on the Bunnies to secure the minor premiership after the Dragons earlier victory over the Bulldogs.The hosts came out of the blocks early, scoring their first try within the opening five minutes.

A clever short side grubber kick from halfback Dean Hawkins was grounded in goal by flanker Dylan O’Connor.

Wenty responded almost immediately courtesy of a sloppy four-pointer to Will Smith, with Rhys Davies’ conversion leveling it at 6-all. Errors gabe the Magpies an opportunity to take the lead, which they eventually did after some ill-discipline from the hosts, in the form of a Penalty Goal off the boot of Davies to edge two points in front.

The ill-discipline Rabbitohs would then go on to concede another four-pointer with Wenty’s backtowwer Tepai Moeroa crashing over from close range. Davies couldn't add the extras meaning the score remained at 12-6.

NRL veteran Tim Mannah ensured his side continued their point-scoring ways, showing great strength to spin out of would-be tackles before barging his way across the stripe. Davies conversion was successful to give his side a two converted try lead at 18-6 with fifteen remaining in the first half. An offside penalty to the Magpies again saw them opt for the shot at goal, with Davies nailing it to extend the lead to 20-6.

South Sydney showed some life in the dying stages of the first stanza when Centre Levi Dodd scooped up a short drop-out attempt and raced down field, before being tackled 40m out. The next play souths looked likely down the scrambling right edge of the Magpies, though were called for a forward pass, leaving the visitors with a hefty 20-6 lead at the break.

A sickening high shot by Souths Dean Britt on Wenty’s Jaeman Salmon was how the second stanza began. The contact saw Salmon assisted from the field, while  Souths found themselves having to play the game with just 12 on the paddock after the referee sent off Britt for the high contact.

Despite being down to just twelve, it was the Bunnies who crossed for the first points of the second half. A beautiful cut out pass by Hawkins found winger Mawene Hiroti who finished it off with an athletic dive in the corner to plant it down. Hiroti snagged the sideline conversion to get his side within eight of the Magpies at 20-12.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to hit back through Ethan Parry who basically strolled over the line from five meters out to ground the steeden. Davies added the extras extending his sides lead to 26-12 with a quarter of the game remaining.

The 75th minute saw Bunnies O’Connor score a fantastic try out wide setting up a slim hope of a late comeback trailing 26-16. This wasn’t to be as the Magpies held their nerve to etch an important 26-16 victory, putting them in good stead for next week's finals.

Newtown Jets v Newcastle Knights

HIGHLIGHTS | Newtown v Newcastle - Rd 24

Hannah McGrory

The Newtown Jets have solidified their credentials as premiership contenders with an impressive 34-22 victory at Henson Park on Saturday 

In the absence of Sione Katoa and star halfback Kyle Flanagan, the Jets had no issues finding the tryline with five tries in a rampant first-half performance – two of which from fullback William Kennedy. 

The Newcastle Knights struggled to get the ball rolling, with their first try being scored in the 35th minute, before closing the gap following two tries in quick succession in the second stanza. 

The Jets capitalised off a penalty in the opening three minutes, as fullback Will Kennedy scored the first try of the game. The Knights made an unforced error before Braydon Trindall had a great run from dummy half to cross for their second. Trindall successfully converted his own try to give his side a 10-nil lead.

Jets Fullback Will Kennedy was satisfied with his performance, hoping his side could continue that form in finals.

“I’m really stoked with my performance, in the back end we dropped off a bit but hopefully we can take that good footy into finals” Kennedy told NSWRL post-match.

“Defence is what we pride on and if we do that, we can beat anyone.”

The home side were gifted possession 30 metres out from the Knights line, before prop Wesley Lolo twisted his way around two defenders and scored. The conversion was successful. Jets winger Tyrone Phillips was next to break down the line through Knights’ defensive line, as Will Kennedy went over for his second of the match. The conversion was successful as they extended their lead out to 22-nil.

Newcastle Knights received back-to-back sets, however the Jets impressive defence stopped them in their attempt to score.

Following a goal-line drop out the Jets were in for the fifth of the game through Teig Wilton. The conversion was successful to extend their lead out 28-nil.

Time was called off as Knights lost Ben Talty as he required a HIA.

The Knights first try came following a length of the field run from winger Jacob Gagai, after outrunning two Jets players. Bayden Searle successfully converted, with the home side remaining in the lead 28-6 at half time.

The visitors closed the gap in the second stanza as they scored three tries through Starford Toa, Brodie Jones and Jacob Gagai.

The Jets slotted a penalty goal in the 69th minute to extend their lead. As pressure got to the Knights following a dropped ball from kick off the Jets went on to secure the solid 34-22 victory after Scott Sorensen crossed in the corner in the 75th minute.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v St George Illawarra Dragons

HIGHLIGHTS | Canterbury-Bankstown v St George Illawarra - Rd 24

Stewart Moses

It was the battle of two v three but it was a star studded St George Illawarra side that prevailed over a fast-finishing Canterbury Bulldogs outfit, that whittled back a 24-nil deficit, to hold on for a 24-22 win at Belmore Sports Ground.

With a backline boasting the likes of Matt Dufty, Jai Field, Mikaele Ravalawa and Charly Runciman, and steered around the park by Darren Nicholls and Adam Clune and well served by hooker Reece Robson, the Dragons have stamped themselves as one of the competition’s favourites for the title given their guaranteed top two, possibly minor premiership finish to the regular season.

The win was built on a rock-solid defensive effort as the Dragons repelled wave after wave of early attacking raids inside their own 20 by the Bulldogs before that NRL experienced backline opened up an eighteen-point lead by half time.

But the Dragons almost saw their 24-point second half lead evaporate before their eyes as the Bulldogs mounted a frantic comeback, scoring 22 unanswered points in less than 20 minutes to set up a grandstand finish in the latter stages of the second half, before holding on for the win.

The Bulldogs’ second consecutive loss could be crucial given they were looking to maintain their spot inside the top four but instead face the real risk of being leapfrogged by either Mounties or Penrith, pending results.

It was all Bulldogs in the opening fifteen minutes but the second placed Dragons were able to defend their line time after time.

Their defensive efforts were rewarded with a try in the north-west corner to Dufty in the 15thminute, the result of a big shift left with Robson and Clune instrumental in the leadup with some cut-out passes that created the overlap for the winger to score and give his team a 4-0 lead.

The try lifted the Dragons’ confidence considerably and they soon scored their second try in as many sets, built off plenty of second phase play with numerous offloads and multiple hands ending in enabling centre Steven Marsters out wide to score and with the conversion by Nicholls, the Dragons took the lead out to 10-0 midway through the first half.

The Bulldogs thought they had opened their account five minutes through a spectacular put down in the corner by Tuipulotu Katoa only for the match officials to deny the winger.

And the home side were made to paid for that missed opportunity with the Dragons marching downfield and scored two sets later, with the fullback Field, putting his centre, Runciman on a great line to score out wide to put the Dragons further in front, 14-0.

Another long cut-out pass from Clune that evaded three Bulldogs defenders enabled Marsters to notch up his double gave the Dragons an imposing 18-0 lead at half time, which could have been more had Nicholls found his kicking radar.

The Dragons continued where they left off the first half, scoring early in the second half through a simple dart from dummy half by Robson, who was one of the Dragons’ best on-field performers, pushing the lead out to 24-0 after 49 minutes.

The Bulldogs finally got on the scoreboard in the 55thminute with a try in the corner to winger John Olive, the beneficiary of an overlap created by the double pump put on his inside by the fullback, Toa Mata’afa, but still trailed 24-4.

In what must be a concern for Dragons coach Matthew Head heading into next week’s finals, key playmaker Darren Nicholls was forced from the field with a suspected groin injury and soon after would have been further displeased when Bulldogs prop, Ofahiki Ogden scored a barnstorming try with 13 minutes remaining to reduce the gap to fourteen, trailing 24-10 with Jesse Marschke’s simple conversion.

The Dragons defensive line off the back of a late tackle penalty inside their own 20, fell asleep yet again, when a short ball from Jack Nelson enabled Bronson Garlick to score from close range and with the successful conversion, the Bulldogs were suddenly back in the game, trailing by just eight with seven minutes remaining.

And when Katoa scored in the corner, converted brilliantly by Marschke, a grandstand finish was on the cards with the Bulldogs trailing by just two points with six minutes remaining.

But despite the best endeavours of the home side, the Dragons were able to see off the Bulldogs, 24-22, which not guarantees a top two spot but they also remain a chance of finishing the season as minor premiers as they await results from the remainder of the final round, while the Bulldogs now have a nervous wait to see whether they hold onto a top four spot.

Warriors v Western Suburbs Magpies

HIGHLIGHTS | Warriors v Western Suburbs - Rd 24

Jamie Wall

Warriors veteran Blake Ayshford ended his career with a 24-20 win over Wests today at Mt Smart, however the result may not be enough to propel his side into the finals.

Wentworthville Magpies, who currerntly sit eighth on the competition ladder, will need to lose by 34 points or more to the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday afternoon if the Warriors are to progress.

Although a win still gives them a glimmer of hope, Wests ensured that ambition was made just a little bit more difficult with a try in only the third minute.

A smart dart from hooker Felix Smith gave Max Burey enough room to loop a beautiful pass out for winger Liam Scolari to cross in the corner. Kauri Aupouri-Puketapu’s conversion put the visitors up 6-0, and they continued to dominate possession.

An Aupouri-Puketapu bomb managed to land in between three Warriors players and end up in the half’s hands, which gave Wests a great chance but they couldn’t convert the pressure into points.

Slowly, the home side managed to wrestle themselves back into the game. They got a slice of good luck when an intercept near the line was dropped by Wests winger Harry O’Toole, then hooker Tyler Slade popped a perfect short ball to a rampant Bunty Afoa to score next to the posts. They should’ve been in again soon after, but Taane Milne’s effort in reaching the line was rubbed out due to an obstruction.

Hayze Perham was the victim of an unlucky collision with eight minutes to go in the half, hitting his head on the hip of one of his team mates and staying down for a long injury break. The experienced half was stretchered off the field, taking no more part in the game. By the time play did restart, light rain had began to fall. Adam Keighran took advantage of the slippery conditions and put a kick through for Setu Tu to pounce on and put the Warriors ahead.

While the Warriors started the second half brightly, with Phillip Makatoa just losing the ball over the line, Wests were the first to score through a great run by Wilson Heleta. Keighran was very roughly adjudged to have connected with his knees as Heleta scored, so Aupouri-Puketapu was awarded two shots at goal and Wests took the lead 14-12.

From there though, the game disintegrated into a series of errors from both sides. Paul Turner had a fantastic chance when he broke down the right wing, but nudged his kick just too far ahead over the goal line and it went dead.The turning point came not long after, though. Keighran made up for his earlier penalty with a 40/20 and Leivaha Pulu cut back off the ensuing tap to score next to the posts.

Then came the fairytale moment with 10 minutes to go, as the skipper for the day Ayshford benefitted from a quick play the ball to cross out wide. It proved to be the crucial try that gave the Warriors a 10 point lead. Wests hit back with a spectacular finish by Heleta to get his second and then launched a stunning attack off the kickoff, but the Warriors were able to hold on for the last four minutes.

While it was enough to get the win, it was ultimately fruitless in the Warriors’ hopes of overturning the points differential held by Wentworthville. They’ll now watch the playoffs along with Wests, and start preparing for next season.


Acknowledgement of Country

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respect and honour the Darug and Eora nations, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.