Simon Masterton nswrl.com.au
Mounties reasserted their Intrust Super Premiership NSW credentials on Saturday, with an exciting display over the Wentworthville Magpies at Pirtek Stadium. The highly-anticipated clash – which featured the first and second-placed sides vying for top spot – looked to be won early for the visitors, but they were made to work for their win throughout the second half. Ultimately, a man-of-the-match performance from Sam Williams helped earn a valuable two points for the men from Mount Pritchard.
In scorching Parramatta conditions, Mounties appeared to be making gaps in the Magpies defence early; dominating through the middle of the field, it took just five minutes until a simple sliding play to the right sent winger Kato Ottio over in the corner. The conversion was missed, but almost an identical move gave the competition’s top try-scorer his second in the 10th minute, again unconverted for an 8-nil lead.
Mounties continued to make easy metres and were soon rewarded with their third; Rhys Kennedy put his skipper Glen Buttriss through a gap to score untouched. A quarter of the way through the game, it appeared to be anything but a top-of-the-table encounter.
Eventually it was Mounties’ turn to defend, after giving away repeat sets on their try line and immediately coming up with an error when they regained possession. The error-fest affected both sides, however, and Wentworthville were unable to capitalise.
A last-second decision to run from dummy-half eventually paid dividends for returning hooker Kaysa Pritchard, who scored the Magpies’ first three minutes before the break. The conversion was missed, but Wentworthville had brought themselves well within reach – a solid effort considering the early onslaught. The home side trailed 14-4 at half-time.
Any half-time speech from Magpies coach Joe Grima seemed to have gone unnoticed by the home side, as Mounties came out with more fast and open play early in the second stanza. In just three minutes fullback Zac Santo found a space, offloading to centre Sisa Waqa who benefitted from a poor read by Bureta Faraimo. He scored the simplest of tries in the corner, unconverted to re-establish Mounties’ 14-point lead.
It was back-and-forth football for some time before Faraimo managed to make up for his earlier defensive mistake, running in a four-pointer on the end of some slick Magpies passing. The first sideline conversion of the afternoon brought the home side back within eight points.
Wentworthville tried a simple third-man play just four minutes later and again came up with points – this time fullback Kieren Moss was the beneficiary as he scored next to the posts. It brought the Magpies back within two, but their ascendency was short-lived; Mitch Barnett sent five-eighth Lachlan Croker over for Mounties in the next opportunity the visitors got. The conversion attempt hit the upright, establishing a six-point difference.
When Lachlan Croker slotted a penalty goal with nine minutes remaining, Mounties got out to a match-winning eight-point lead; the Magpies threw all that they could at the away side, but couldn’t come up with any more points as scores finished 24-16.
It awards Mounties first position in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, while Wentworthville drop to third following the Newtown Jets’ win on Friday night. Mounties look forward to taking on the Sea Eagles in Round 7, while the Magpies have the bye.