Anthony Harb nswrl.com.au
Both teams entered Round 5 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW looking to bounce back from disappointing losses in the previous week. While the Magpies had won three from four and boasted the best defence in the league, the inconsistent Warriors were two from four and had the worst defence in the top eight, conceding 24 points a game.
Mitch Cornish had an outstanding game at five-eighth, steering his team around the park with his clever kicking game, while hooker Cameron King took charge of the ruck and bagged a try and try assist.
Magpies came out firing, earning a repeat set of the kickoff. The home side scored first points in the ensuing set, when Luke Kelly put in a grubber for himself and re-gathered to ground the ball just short of the deadline. Unfortunately Kelly injured his right knee in the process and limped off straight after scoring. Cornish was unable to add the extras.
This meant a reshuffle for the Magpies as utility Blake Cook came on for Kelly. Warriors were able to take advantage of the disruption scoring three unanswered tries in 12 minutes. The first was through a strong effort close to the Magpies line from Marata Niukore who rode the challenge of three defenders to twist his body and slam the ball down to score the Warriors first points. Mason Lino converted the try, but the halfback failed in his next two attempts from the sideline. Wingers David Fusitu’a and Ken Maumalo were the two other try scorers as New Zealand crossed over twice in five minutes to take their lead out to 10 points. After a quarter of the game the Warriors led 14-4.
The Magpies were able to hit back seven minutes from halftime when Cornish threw a twenty-metre cut out pass to Scott Schulte, who charged to the line taking on two sliding defenders to score. Cornish failed to add the extras and Magpies still trailed 14-8. Warriors conceded a penalty in the next set to march Wentworthville up field and they scored again courtesy of a burrowing dive close to the line by hooker King. Cornish converted the try to level the scores 14-14 so that after forty minutes both teams had scored three tries and converted one of three conversion attempts, respectively.
The scores stayed level for the opening twenty minutes of the second half, as both teams were guilty of squandering try-scoring opportunities. But after a mountain of possession for the Magpies on the Warriors line, Wentworthville broke the deadlock with King darting out of dummy half before rifling a ball to Rory O’Brien, who crossed over the line untouched. Cornish converted the try and the scores stood 20-14 Magpies in front with 15 minutes to play.
Schulte bagged a final try in the 77th minute and Cornish added the extras to seal the win 26-14. Magpies celebrated their fourth win of the season to take top spot on the ladder level on eight points with Mounties while the Warriors lost their third of the season and were left to languish in the bottom half of the ladder.