Simon Masterton nswrl.com.au
The Wentworthville Magpies have hung on to win 34-26 on the road, against the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles who made a late surge.
After an ill-disciplined opening, which saw both teams on the attack in the early exchanges, it was Wentworthville who cracked the Manly defence first.
It began by a bullocking run close to the line by Cody Nelson, which resulted in an offload along the ground to Dylan Izzard.
With only one to beat, Izzard used his support in Scott Schulte who ran over uncontested to give the Magpies a four-point lead in the seventh minute.
Izzard converted the try 10 metres out from the eastern touchline to extend their lead to 6-0.
Despite a promising start by Wentworthville, a mistake in the set after points gifted Manly a great opportunity to open their account and they looked promising through a half-break by Isaac John.
Unfortunately for the Sea Eagles, the ball by John drifted forward which left the Magpies off the hook.
The next quarter of play was tarnished by poor handling with both teams guilty of pushing the pass.
However, it was the defence that shone particularly on the edges with a number of last-ditched efforts saving tries.
The Magpies were able to control the game during this period which saw them bust through the Sea Eagles right edge in the 28th minute through backrower, Matt Woods.
Woods showed his evasiveness to initially make the break before planting the ball down in the corner. The score remained at 10-0 after a sidelined attempt at conversion waved across the face of goal.
The hosts resorted to playing ‘catch-up footy’ which rushed their plays in attack.
As a result, the Magpies made them pay by putting on two quick tries before the break, which blew out the score to 22-0.
Sam Gorman was the third Magpie to cross the try line courtesy of a Honeti Tuha kick into the in-goal, while an angled run by Nick Kassis saw the utility cross untouched on the stroke of half-time.
In the 49th minute, Gorman returned the favour to Tuha when he set the fullback up for a try of his own, through a simple draw and pass.
Again Izzard made no mistakes from a kick adjacent to the posts, which extended the Magpie lead to 28-0.
Despite a less than desirable start to the second half by the Sea Eagles, it was clear they had increased the intensity and looked a far different team to the first half.
The hosts applied pressure of their own on the Wentworthville try line and they managed to string together repeat sets through precision kicking.
Their hard work was eventually rewarded in the 57th minute by Ben Fritz who provided individual brilliance, after regathering his own grubber kick in the in-goal.
The play was ignited by a 20 metre cut-out pass by Isaac John which got Fritz in enough space to do the rest.
Hugh Pratt’s attempt at conversion fell short of the mark despite being on target, which left the score at 28-4 to the Magpies.
The boys from Brookvale went back-to-back courtesy of a Jamil Hopoate try six minutes later.
Hopoate’s dummy fooled the Magpies middle defenders and as a result, he had enough space to slice through under the posts. Pratt made no mistake, which took the score to 28-10 to the Magpies.
Manly-Warringah looked hungry for more points and a comeback was definitely on the cards after Hopoate again injected his efforts into another try.
His ability to skip out to the edge put the backrower in enough space to set up Dylan Kelly in the corner.
A change in goal kicker saw the tryscorer Kelly attempting to convert his own four-pointer and was successful. This narrowed the gap to only two converted tries with under ten minutes remaining.
Despite a valiant effort by the Sea Eagles, Wentworthville sealed the victory after a slick inside pass by Dylan Izzard found Tuha for his second try of the match.
Manly-Warringah had the final say however after a scrum move involving Feleti Mateo saw Peter Schuster cross for a try, and then again through Halauafu Lavaka on the stoke of full-time.
Kelly converted one of the two attempts, which left the score at 34-26 to the Wentworthville Magpies, whose dominating first half proved too much for the Sea Eagles in the end.
Next week the Sea Eagles host the third-placed New Zealand Warriors, while the Magpies travel up to the Hunter to take on the Knights in Round 19 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.