The Wentworthville Magpies have booked a spot in the Preliminary Finals after they fought off last year’s premiers in a 26-20 thriller.
The Magpies raced away to a 20-0 lead but the Bulldogs fought back to lock the scores up, before some handy work from George Jennings broke the deadlock in the dying minutes.
Wenty were on the board first when they received a penalty in front of the posts and took the gift two points, before Tim Mannah powered his way through to push their lead out to 8-0.
Will Smith earned a dropout for the Magpies and Peni Terepo wound up for the opening hitup of the following set, charging at the Bulldogs defence at full pace and bending them backwards. It was Smith who finished what he started when he stepped his way through and reached out for a try.
Rhys Davies burrowed over from dummy half and converted his own try to blow the lead out to 20-0.
The Bulldogs needed something before half-time to stay alive, and a freakish effort by Morgan Harper got them on the scoreboard when he somehow caught the ball behind his head before he weaved through the defence to score.
A unfortunate error from George Jennings gave the Bulldogs the first real chance of the second half when he caught the ball but stepped onto the sideline. A Mannah penalty gave them another set and eventually the Magpies succumbed to the pressure when Jesse Marschke threw a perfect cut-out ball to Jayden Okunbor, who scored in the corner.
The try of the afternoon followed. Dalton Smith burst through and passed to a supporting Connelly Leumelu who looked like he would go the distance, but as he was about to be caught he threw an overhead pass to Christian Crichton who then gave it off for John Olive to score in the corner.
After being 20-0 down, Toa Mata’afa bullied his way through to lock the scores up and suddenly it was game on.
Strong defence from Wentworthville trapped the Bulldogs inside their own half for a majority of the opening 10 minutes, but they were unable to convert that field position into points.
Jennings won the game for the Magpies when he pounced on a loose ball and sprinted away for a 55-metre dash to score under the posts and book a spot in the Preliminary Finals.
This article first appeared on NSWRL.com.au | WORDS: Matt Buxton