Friday, December 17, 2010

Club Update

A quick update for the benefit of Western Suburbs Magpies members and their supporters.

MEMBERSHIP.Wests Ashfield will be handling club membership. At the moment the membership data base is being upgraded so please be patient. In the New Year things will be back to normal with renewals proceeding as usuall. To my knowledge, no renewals have been sent out, but dont worry, you will be kept up to date through this and other mediums as your continued membership is very important to us.

MERCHANDISE.Anyone requiring merchandise should order it through the following e mail address:

The order will be attended to promptly by a dedicated volunteer. Wests Magpies office no longer retain stock for sale. I apologise for any inconvenience but by using this method to order your gear you can be assured it will be dealt with in a timely manner.

SPONSORSHIP.The Board, Wests Magpies are looking at ways to pursue sponsorship in 2011. If you know of anyone who would like to come on board, please drop us a line.

TRAINING.Across all teams, training has been going very well. We are confident that we can repreat the sucesses of 2010. There is no lack of commitment from all involved.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Magpies Collector Cards

Wests Magpies Merchandise has just release the next two sets of cards in our Collector Card series. Now available in time for Christmas are:

1. Wests Magpies Team of the Century - new
2. Wests Magpies Team of the 70’s - new
3. Wests Magpies Team of the 80’s
4. Wests Magpies 2010 NSW State Cup Team

Card sets are still $20.00 each plus $2.00 postage.

You can place orders via email:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Boys need Accomodation and Work

The main things we are after at the moment is accomodation for players in the Magpies State Cup , they are ok to pay their own way , a share accomodation situation would suit . Also , probably more impotantly is some work for a couple of boys , most have their RSA .
It's important for us to get players settled as soon as possible so that they can focus on football.



Monday, December 6, 2010

Letter from the Chairman

Dear Members,
I am writing to let you know that Wests Magpies will be alive and, hopefully, very competitive at all levels again for the coming 2011 Rugby League season.

Despite many rumours which have been circulating, we are looking forward to “business as usual” on the football field – and that business has given us much to celebrate as we look back on the past season.

Congratulations are in order, and have been delivered at functions in the premises of our principal sponsor, Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, for the efforts of all involved with our State Cup side, and the Junior Representative Teams in both the Harold Matthews and S.G. Ball competitions.

As committed Magpie supporters, you probably already know that the State Cup team fell just one game short of a Grand Final appearance; the S.G. Ball side reached the Qualifying Final; and the Harold Matthews team reached the Preliminary Final.

These fine results were products of a lot of hard work by dedicated and valued players, coaching staff, and volunteers – and everyone involved with the Magpies is most appreciative of their fine efforts which ensured that Western Suburbs remained a proud and competitive football force through what was the Club’s 103rd season.

We are also appreciative of the efforts of those who have collectively steered the Club through operational challenges away from the on-field excitement.

This year has been a challenging one, with the Board of this Club having to make some tough decisions which have always been aimed at improving administrative practices and ensuring that we are positioned for a bright future.

You are probably aware that our former long-serving Chairman and Chief Executive, Kevin Hammond, vacated his position in April, to be replaced as Acting General Manager by Andrew Waite who in turn chose to resign his Board post when the General Manager’s position was restructured at the end of October.

Restructuring, which has involved moving the increasingly complex financial and overall business administration of the Club to Wests Ashfield, meant that the positions of Ms Tracey Roberts and Ms Aggie Lucas were made redundant during Andrew’s period administering our Club.

To Kevin and Andrew must go our thanks for their work, and to Tracey and Aggie our gratitude for their understanding and acceptance of our need to make tough decisions.

Your Magpies have been most fortunate in being able to tap into the services of Mr Steve Reeves to oversee continuing operations at our Whitlam Centre offices as we prepare for an exciting new season.

Most of you know Steve, and would be aware of his past experience in a similar role.

There is no doubting his commitment to and passion for the Magpies, and it’s matched by his strong personal knowledge of the Club and our many valued volunteers on whom we depend so heavily to be able to continue providing Rugby League opportunities for numerous young players in the Macarthur Region.

A “thank you” function for those volunteers is being planned for early in the new year, and we are also working towards our Annual General Meeting as an opportunity for the broader Magpie fraternity to learn more about our future.

The Club will continue to be a feeder for Wests Tigers in 2011, and our Head Coach, Leo Epiphania, has been involved with that NRL Club in looking to ensure that some of its contracted players will be available to the Magpies, along with his continuing efforts to retain our core players and negotiate with new signings. Thank you, Leo.

Thanks must also be expressed to Wests Ashfield Leagues Club for its guarantee of financial support for the Magpies, and its almost invaluable contribution to our operations by assuming responsibility for the already huge and seemingly growing volume of administrative paperwork that is involved with running modern day football.

We are grateful to Wests Ashfield also as our principal sponsor, and to all other sponsors who have contributed to easing the financial burdens of continuing to field our teams.

Finally, I extend gratitude to you as Magpie Members for your dedication to everything associated with the team, and special thanks to those who have regularly joined us in the stands to cheer on the mighty Maggies.

Best wishes for Christmas and a healthy and prosperous 2011 – when, along with my fellow Board Members, Mick Liubinskas, George Downie, Julie Romero, Ron Powell, Denny Burgess, and Paul Dillon, I hope to meet you all, and share the joys of many wins.


Mike Bailey

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

NSW Cup - Grand Final Preview

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs look to make it back to back premierships in the NSW Cup when they take on the inform team of the final series, the Windsor Wolves.The Wolves have looked ominous in the last two weeks, producing one of the greatest comebacks in Rugby League history to defeat the Newtown Jets with only 12 men and then held off a fast finishing Balmain Ryde-Eastwood team last weekend at Leichhardt Oval.
The Bulldogs scraped past a resilient Western Suburbs Magpies outfit last weekend after enjoying the previous week off. The Dogs looked shaky for a short period when Wests took the lead but the class of Nathan Smith, Daniel Harrison and co took over and the Dogs eventually closed things out 32-24.
The positive for Justin Hollbrook’s men is the majority of his side has remained unchanged throughout season 2010 whereas Windsor experienced a rather interrupted mid-season with injuries in the Panther’s backline.
Daine Laurie looks set to return for the Wolves after a one-week suspension while for the Dogs, Daniel Harrison has been promoted to the starting lineup for Corey Payne who returns to the bench.
The battle of the backlines shapes as a real treat, both teams have three brilliant finishers with Trent Cutler, Heka Nanai and Junior Tia-Kilifi for the Dogs up against Zoram Watene, David Simmons and Sandor Earl from Windsor.
The above combinations have combined for a total of 47 and 46 tries respectively so we should see some fireworks come midday Sunday.
The forwards battle isn’t far behind with Laurie set to add some extra spice into a clash of titanic proportions. Windsor workhorses Aaron Sweeney, Steve Meredith and Josh Bateman come up against the speed, flair and skill of Tim Browne, Manly bound Daniel Harrison, Yileen Gordon and Corey Payne.
A number of Dogs will be handed one final chance in 2010 to impress Canterbury hierarchy as the likes of Michael Lett, Jonathon Wright and Grant Millington are all bound for the club in 2011 and with competition for spots likely to be fierce, a premiership medallion will look quite good in the selection room.
For the Wolves, Maurice Blair bounced back to form with an impressive display last week and would love to make his mark on the NSW Cup one final time before he departs for the Melbourne Storm in 2011.
We are set for a fitting end to what has been an outstanding season in the NSW Cup and with two of the more offensive minded teams in the competition doing battle, ANZ Stadium is set to explode come midday Sunday.

Previous Meetings:
• Round 5 - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 30 def. Windsor Wolves 24 at The Crest Stadium
• Round 19 - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 46 def. Windsor Wolves 12 at Windsor Sports Complex

NSW Cup - Grand Final Preview
30/09/2010 3:28:08 PM
NSW Cup Grand Final
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs V Windsor Wolves
ANZ Stadium, Sunday, October 3, 2010
Kick-off: 12.00pm
Referee: David Munro
Broadcast: LIVE TV coverage on Channel 9 and Radio coverage on 2GB and ABC


1 Zoram Watene
2 Dave Simmons
3 Ryan Walker
4 Michael Mate
5 Sandor Earl
6 Maurice Blair
7 Craig Trindall
8 Steve Meredith
9 Ryan Russell
10 Aaron Sweeney
11 Joseph Paulo
12 Nigel Plum
13 Josh Bateman14 Reece Goldsmith
15 Matthew McConnell
16 David Tangata-Toa
17 Jesse Sene-Lefao
20 Daine Laurie
23 Brendan Vengoa
24 Daniel Penese
Coach: Guy Missio

1 Trent Cutler
2 Heka Nanai
3 Shane Neumann
4 Daniel Rauicava
5 Junior Tia-Kilifi
6 Rhys Jack
7 Josh Reynolds
8 Brad Morrin
9 Nathan Smith
10 Tim Browne
11 Daniel Harrison
12 Yileen Gordon
13 Danny Williams14 Corey Payne
15 Harlan Alaalatoa
16 Conrad Taakimoeaka
17 Kose Lelei
19 Benson Tupou
Coach: Justin Holbrook

Holbrook's Heroes
1/10/2010 8:41:05 AM
Bulldogs NSW Cup head coach Justin Holbrook has spoken ahead of Sunday’s season decider against the Windsor Wolves at ANZ Stadium.
In his first year coaching the side Holbrook is just 80 minutes away from a title, with his talented outfit winning through to the Grand Final with a determined win over Western Suburbs in week three of the finals.
There they will meet a Windsor side that will be looking to upset its third straight more fancied opponent, having toppled second placed Balmain-Ryde-Eastwood last weekend and Newtown the weekend before.
“It’s been a very good year, and it’s great to be in a Grand Final Sunday,” Holbrook said. “As long as we’re well prepared for what Windsor is going to throw at us I’m sure we’ll be able to combat it.
“Windsor are just really peaking at the right time I guess. They’ve got a lot of confidence, they came from behind against Newtown with 12 men the week before beating Balmain, so we’re obviously playing a confident side. They’re a big strong side, so I’m expecting it to be pretty physical obviously, and Craig Trindall at half, he likes to play a bit of football so I think they’ll throw it around.”
Sunday’s match kicks off at midday, and will be broadcast live on the Nine Network.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Photos from Wests v Bulldogs Grand Final Qualifier

Thanks to Mike Biboudis from Procarlos Photography  for these unbelievable photos of the weekends clash at Leaichhardt Oval.















Only one winner in the battle of head, heart and history

High in the hinterland of the Gold Coast last Friday, a charity lunch ended with an auction of two first-grade rugby league jumpers linked to the past of St George Illawarra and Wests Tigers, the clubs competing tonight for the honour of playing in the NRL grand final.

They were 1980s strips representing the decade I coached both clubs before they each merged - a St George jumper, with the Penfolds sponsorship prominently displayed, and a Western Suburbs one, bearing the name of Victa.

Wests now exists as only half an NRL club, having merged with Balmain. The joint venture is named Wests Tigers but the media tend to drop the Wests off, calling them Tigers.

When they wore orange jumpers in the televised game against the Raiders on Friday night, I actually heard people at the Currumbin Surf Club call the team Balmain.

The Dragons, however, went into their post-Super League talks with Illawarra with three non-negotiable conditions: they would never relinquish their name, colours or emblem.

The value of the jumpers is a mirror of their fan base. Wests is ageing and nostalgic. The Dragons strip is both ubiquitous and numerous.
The lunch, to raise funds for Variety, was partly organised by two former Dragons players: hooker John Dowling and fullback Glenn Burgess, who played valiantly in the 1985 grand final, the first of the five the Dragons have lost since 1979.
''JD'', as Dowling is universally known, invited former Wests captain Tom Raudonikis to the lunch.
Raudonikis is very informed about auctions, travelling NSW and the outback mining towns of Queensland with Arthur Beetson, where the two former State of Origin captains entertain audiences with tales laced with political incorrectness.

''It won't get over $1000,'' Raudonikis said of the Dragons jumper, surveying the small but capacity audience of tradesmen and owners of small businesses. He was shocked when it went for $1600.
The auctioneer then offered up the Wests jumper. Bidding quickly moved to $1500, but Raudonikis drove it further.

Almost silent to this point, having enjoyed the rare opportunity of being a guest rather than a guest speaker, he leapt to his feet.

''You can't let a St George jumper beat a Wests one,'' he croaked to the crowd.
The jumper sold for $2300. It was the first time I heard Raudonikis express any passion for the club since the merger a decade ago.

He has occasionally said of our ribald, rebellious two years together at Lidcombe, ''No player will ever see those days again.''

To be a Wests fan back then was an act of faith and fantasy, and rugby league was, ironically, far more interactive than anything Bill Gates and the Apple man contrive for us now.
It was a look-you-in-the-eye era when i's, not coms, were dotted.

Tom rarely attends Wests reunions, and the vision I see of him on TV now associates him more with Newtown, the club he joined from the Magpies.

Yet something stirred within, and he exhorted the old Magpies in the audience to achieve a victory over the Dragons, even if it was over a 30-year-old jumper.

Maybe it was his innate competitive spirit, rather than latent loyalty. After all, his combative approach bears no relationship with Wests Tigers' playground style.

Raudonikis and Wests Tigers' main man, Benji Marshall, both hurl themselves into the attack like a four-year-old running towards the tree on Christmas morning, but they do it in vastly different ways. It's akin to comparing a bricklayer with a cross-dresser.

More than once, Raudonikis said in reference to the Dragons' head-geared five-eighth, ''Geez, I'd love to run at that Soward.''

Ernest Hemingway once declared, ''Every writer owes it to the place he knows best to either destroy it or perpetuate it.''

I owe Wests and St George, and have always felt a duty to perpetuate them in anything I write, even to the point where people complain, ''Can you leave it another 12 months before you mention 'Dallas' Donnelly?''
I'd like to think Raudonikis has finally come around to the need to perpetuate Wests. He could never destroy it.

Visit the neat brick house opposite Wests Leagues Club at Ashfield, and you'll witness a busy band of archivists dedicated to Magpies history.
You'll see the original 1908 team photo; Jimmy Sharman's 1937 football boots; the Kangaroos diaries of Skinny McMillan (1930) and Alan Ridley (1934); the minutes of meetings from 1955-56 where members stood accused of being ''drunk and disorderly'' and ''fighting within the club precincts''.

The Wests exhibit was the largest part of the 2008 centenary rugby league exhibit in the National Museum.
The more quickly a club dies, the greater the need to nurture its past.
Western Suburbs NSW Cup team, with the magpie emblem on the jumper, plays Canterbury this weekend for the right to play in the grand final. However, constant rumours of budget overruns cloud the team's brave efforts.

Rich clubs will tell you spirit is the most important thing in football; poor clubs know it is money.
The Dragons have no need to proclaim their history. It lives still, with the team playing at Kogarah and the leagues club across the road.

They didn't select a Team of the Century because it would have been too hard, given the competing claims of the champions of different eras.

Walking into the old ''middle room'' at Kogarah - between the home side and visitors rooms - was like stepping into the Palace of Versailles, where the Hall of Mirrors became a narrative one, with champions such as John Raper standing beside photos of premiership teams, recounting their deeds.
The presence of all these ghosts, all these shadows, can be debilitating, especially for a coach.

When asked to compare coaching Wests with St George, I would say that at Kogarah you ate a little better but didn't sleep as well.
Being in charge of an heirloom is akin to walking around with dynamite strapped to your body.

You fear that if you make a wrong move, you could blow up the place.
This is why the appointment of Wayne Bennett as coach was so strategically successful.

He has won six premierships, more than half the 11 St George won in its world record streak. Does anybody win 11 anythings any more?
Bennett's personal record is a distraction from the club's proud past.
Tradition is a many-headed beast. It's like fire: it can warm you or kill you; cook your food or destroy it.
Bennett's own record is so glorious, he can internalise all this history and relieve the players of the burden of the past. He can shoulder the burden of expectation and the even weightier baggage of doubt that has come with the choker tag.

There's a saying at the Dragons that when you leave, they don't want to see you back for at least 10 years.
This is why the appointment of Nathan Brown as coach was a poor decision. To move straight from playing to coach at the same club is too big a challenge. The directors should have known better, given they put Craig Young, captain in 1979 and 1985, in charge of his former teammates, and then sacked him after 18 months.
But the board, perhaps realising the error was theirs, stuck with Brown.

''Their loyalty to Nathan was a big factor in me joining the club,'' Bennett once told me. And Young has returned, as recruitment officer and father of Dean, one of the club's most inspirational players.
He would be happy to shed the tag of ''last premiership captain''.
Like ''JD'' and ''Burgo'', Craig symbolises the former St George player - one with the holy man's capacity to forgive, and the betting man's zeal for a win.

JD and Burgo feared the Raiders, believing they had the wood on the Dragons. When Wests Tigers won on Friday night, the pair breathed a quiet sigh of relief, convinced the main obstacle to a St George Illawarra premiership had gone.

My problem is I have loyalty to both, and when confronted in the past with choices like this, I have always asked: Who needs the win more?

Wests Tigers last won in 2005; the Dragons in 1979.
Time and football can be cruel.

The Dragons need it more.

September 25, 2010

Final Match Report of 2010 - Bulldogs too good for the Magpies

The Magpies traveled to Leichhardt Oval to play in front of probably the biggest crowd of the season who had gathered to see them take on the minor premiers, Canterbury Bulldogs. The loosing team would bow out of the competition with the winner being rewarded with a place in the 2010 NSW Cup Grand Final.

Windsor Wolves were the first team into the grand final after beating Balmain Tigers in the first match of the afternoon. The Magpies were looking to keep one of the joint venture flags flying, but unfortunately it was not to be. Although the Magpies enjoyed their most successful season for around 20 years they came up a few points short at the end of this important game.

John Skandalis was a late inclusion in the team and showed throughout the afternoon why he was on the verge of playing for Wests Tigers against St George Dragons the previous night. He played strongly for long periods and certainly stiffened up the defense around the centre of the field.

The Magpies played an expansive game which caught the Dogs short on several occasions, but unforced errors would prove to be their achilles heel. Nua Akeripa and Junior Moors caused havoc when they ran the ball at the Dogs three quarter line, but a lot of their good work came undone when errors turned the ball over.

After capitalising on a dropped ball, Dogs second row forward Yileen Gordon found himself in good field position and at the end of a determined run he pushed over for the first try of the day. The attempted conversion from Josh Reynolds was waved away, but the Dogs had got off to a good start, leading the Magpies 4 points to nil.

For the next 25 minutes, both teams got to the end of their sets before putting in clearing kicks, however neither side could made a dent in their respective defensive lines. But that changed when Wests replacement forward Kurt Kara caught the defense napping. He gained around 20 metres before wing three quarter Gus Aiga scooted from dummy half, making another 20 metre run into the opposition’s territory. Magpie half and captain Nathan Waters called for the leather before putting in a long kick which was taken by Dogs fullback Trent Cutler.

A good defensive set followed before Dogs half Josh Reynolds turned the Magpies around with a fine attacking kick, which rolled into touch near the Magpies 30 metre line. After winning the scrum, Magpie fullback Rhys Pritchard chimed into the backline. He pushed off an attempted tackle before off loading to Gus Aiga who sprinted away from the chasers in a 40 metre run to the try line. Wests hooker Chris Corby added the extras, putting the Magpies in the lead 6 points to 4.

Over the next 6 minutes or so, the Magpies saw themselves under a lot of pressure. Presented with extra possession, the Dogs ran in two quick tries to take a 14 points to 6 lead into the sheds at half time. The first try was scored by fullback Trent Cutler after it appeared the ball was stripped from a Magpies grasp, but it went unnoticed. It was converted by Josh Reynolds with a further try to Dogs five eight Rhys Jack. Despite this setback the Magpies were well and truly in the game.

The second half was only 2 minutes old when Wests Magpies second row forward Nua Akeripa received a great ball from George Kepa. After beating the first line of defense he had a clear run to the line, but first he had to get around Dogs fullback Trent Cutler. The attack seemed to come to an end when Akeripa was grabbed from behind, but looming up on his inside was George Kepa. Akeripa flicked a good ball to his support player who dived under the posts. Corby’s conversion took the Magpies to within 2 points of the Dogs, 14 to 12.

Barely 5 minutes had expired when the Magpies were on the attack again. After receiving the ball from a kick, Wests forwards Michael Stolk and John Skandalis carried the attack over the advantage line. Waters followed this with a chip kick which was knocked on by the opposition. Alex Ranieri dived onto the loose ball. Trying to get to his feet to play the ball quickly, he was held down in the tackle. After receiving the penalty, the ball was collected by Kurt Kara who weaved his way through the Dog’s defenders to score a sensational individual try. Corby’s conversion ensured the Magpies would take the lead 18 points to 14.

The Dogs put in a high kick off to re start proceedings but when attempting to pick the ball up, a Magpie player knocked on. After the scrum win, the Dogs ran hard at the Magpie line. On the last tackle Dogs centre three quarter Shane Neumann found himself at dummy half. He picked up the ball, threw a dummy before running some 3 metres down the blind side to score his first try of the day. From a difficult position, Josh Reynolds potted the ball between the uprights. Dogs 20 Magpies 18.

In the next phase of play, the Dogs ran downfield gaining good field position, but in a heavy tackle they dropped the ball. The scrum was won by the Magpies, but they in turn knocked the ball on, giving the feed to the opposition. This lucky break put the Dogs on the front foot. On the last tackle they decided to run the ball again rather than put up an attacking kick. Shane Neumann positioned himself well to receive the ball before scoring his second try. Josh Reynolds took the extras, increasing the Dogs advantage 26 to 18.

Wests moved down field after the kick off and held the opposition within their own 30 metre line. After being tackled, the ball was spread across the Dogs backline to wing three quarter Heka Nanai. After a determined run down the side line, he appeared to be headed into touch, but somehow he got a ball away to replacement Daniel Harrison who scored the Canterbury Bulldogs last try of the day. Josh Reynolds conversion took them out to 32 points to 18 lead.

With 15 minutes left in the game, the never say die Magpies threw everything at the Dogs. They went close on a couple of occasions, but the Canterbury Bulldogs defense held firm.

In what was probably the try of the afternoon, Magpie prop forward Alex Ranieri received the ball on the last tackle. Summing up the situation perfectly, he put in a grubber kick which he chased at pace. The ball bounced into his hands and with 20 metres left to the try line he showed good speed before carrying a Dogs player over the try line with him. Kieran Turner added the extras to reduce the deficit to 32 points to 24.

The Mighty Wests Magpies tried to make up the points, but it wasn’t to be and in the end the Canterbury Bulldogs won the encounter 32 points to 24.

Head Coach Leo Epifania stated that he was very proud of the team’s achievements this year. Whilst he and the players were disappointed with the loss he was acutely aware that each player gave 100% and he could not have asked any more from them. He also thanked the Clubs support staff, volunteers, fans and sponsors for their support during the year. He also offered his sincere appreciation to Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, the Magpies major sponsor for their unwavering support.

In closing, the Magpies offered their congratulations to Windsor Wolves and Canterbury Bulldogs on making the 2010 NSW Cup grand final.

Scorers for the Magpies – Tries to Gus Aiga, Nua Akeripa, Kurt Kara and Alex Ranieri. Goals to Chris Corby 3 and Kieran Turner 1.

Leos best three – Rhys Pritchard, John Skandalis and Nua Akeripa.

Match Ball – player’s player Nua Akeripa.

Scorers for the Bulldogs – 2 tries to Shane Neumann, with 1 try each to Trent Cutler, Rhys Jack, Yileen Gordon and Daniel Harrison, whilst Josh Reynolds kicked 4 goals.

Best for the Bulldogs – Josh Reynolds, Brad Morrin, Nathan Smith, Trent Cutler, Tim Browne and Shane Neumann.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Week 3 Finals NSW Cup Preview - Wests v Bulldogs

The second Preliminary Final on Sunday will be played between two old combatants whose rivalry in our great game almost compares to that of Souths and Easts or even the Dragons and Souths for that matter.

While much uncertainty continues to shroud the existence of the proud Western Suburbs Magpies club, that will no doubt be the last thing on their minds this Sunday as they battle it out with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs for the right to advance to the Grand Final at ANZ a week later. After overcoming a stubborn Wentworthville Magpies outfit last weekend attentions would have immediately turned to exactly how they can overcome the Minor Premiers this weekend considering they have not been able to do so in two prior attempts this year. A narrow and ultra competitive loss at the Crest mid season was tempered by their more recent and far less competitive outing against the Dogs in Round 24 and coach Leo Epifania would have surely had some restless nights trying to work out how to overcome this Bulldogs juggernaut. And why wouldn’t he when you look at their side which would not look out of place lining up in an NRL fixture with the likes of Yileen Gordon, Corey Payne and Brad Morrin in the forwards complemented by the likes of Trent Cutler, Heka Nanai, Shane Neumann and Daniel Rauicava in the backs. The Dogs should be the fresher of the two teams as they, like the Tigers had the luxury of sitting back and relaxing last weekend while the other finalists were battling it out, but with that said I am sure coach Justin Holbrook has kept the boys ticking over in the interim and that they will turn up to Leichhardt on Sunday ready to play.

But with that said Wests have shown in the past few weeks that they are not here to merely make up the numbers and with the unpredictable and explosive Rhys Pritchard at the back and the steadying influence of Nathan Waters and Chris Corby in and around the rucks the Magpies are a real possibility of causing the upset here.

2010 previous meetings:
RD 13: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20 def. Western Suburbs Magpies 14 at The Crest Stadium
RD 24: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 42 def. Western Suburbs Magpies 12 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Vs Western Suburbs Magpies
Leichhardt Oval, Sunday, September 26
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Gavin West
Broadcast: Triple H 100.1FM (Link available via’s Weekend Game-Cast)
Broadcast: 2GB broadcasting LIVE & ABC Live updates (Links available via’s Weekend Game-Cast)
Broadcast: NSWRL Preliminary Finals Highlights to be aired on Fox Sports 2 HD and Fox Sports 2, Wednesday, September 29, 5.00pm

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Two NSWRL Cup Preliminary Finals will be played at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, September 26.
Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers clash with Windsor Wolves at 1pm and will be followed by the match between Western Suburbs Magpies and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at 3pm.
The two winners will meet in the NSWRL State Cup Grand Final at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, October 3, as part of NRL Grand Final Day.

Entry to Leichhardt Oval on Sunday is $10 in line with the NSWRL finals price policy.
Wests Tigers wish Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers and Western Suburbs Magpies the very best of luck.
Balmain Ryde- Eastwood Tigers team
1 Sean Meaney
2 Lee Bennett (C)
3 Brett Lane
4 Gavin Cowan
5 Sam Latu
6 Darren Nicholls
7 Blake Lazarus
8 Al Schirnack
9 Ryan Carr
10 David Gower
11 Rhys Curran
12 Matthew Ryan
13 Jared Farlow
14 David Fifita
15 Willie Mataka
16 Jason Schirnack
17 Eloni Vunakece
18 Wes Middleton
Coach: Paul Fletcher

Western Suburbs Magpies team
1 Rhys Pritchard
2 Kieran Turner
3 Andrew Everingham
4 George Kepa
5 Gus Aiga
6 Ben Falcone
7 Nathan Waters
8 Duan Poaneki
9 Chris Corby
10 Alex Ranieri
11 Nu Akeripa
12 Josh Davis
13 Kurt Kara
14 David Harris
15 Troy O'Sullivan
16 Dean Rysko
17 Michael Stolk
Coach: Leo Epifania

St George Illawarra Dragons vs Wests Tigers Preview

Sorry Dragons fans, but the eerily familiar, déjà-vu like circumstances of this preliminary final are too blatant to overlook: in 2005 the week-rested Dragons trotted out as firm favourites to advance to the NRL grand final, but were ripped to shreds by the underdog Tigers – who went on to win the title the following week. Gulp.

So what’s changed to suggest that won’t happen again?


The Dragons have two years of grinding consistency behind them under the best coach in the business, including two minor premierships. Yes they were bundled out in ‘straight sets’ in last year’s finals race but their ruthless 28-0 demolition of the Sea Eagles a fortnight ago showed they have the mental focus required to take the title in 2010. For 60 minutes the Dragons strangled the Sea Eagles, repelled their best attacking efforts, then unleashed a barrage of tries in the final 20 minutes. It showed they are a disciplined, measured unit who can still turn on the strike-power when they need to.

Meanwhile the Tigers are riding a wave of enthusiasm and good form. They’ve won four of their past six, the two defeats narrow ones to the Titans (21-18) in Round 26 and Roosters (19-15) in Week One of the finals, when a try to Shaun Kenny-Dowall against the run of play in the 100th minute sealed the result.

Supposedly busted and riddled with injuries, they were given no chance against the Raiders in Canberra last week, but took that game by the scruff of the neck early and repelled a brave Raiders comeback.

Benji Marshall showed no signs of a knee injury that many feared would sideline him for the rest of the season, and all their troops left the nation’s capital fairly healthy.

Which brings us to this week.

The Dragons have had a fortnight to drill their squad, which is unchanged from the Sea Eagles win. Meanwhile the Tigers have made the odd shuffle on paper – Todd Payten moves from the back row to start at prop, with Liam Fulton elevated from the bench to start in the second row. Bryce Gibbs will enter the game off the bench, which also boasts Ben Murdoch-Masila, Sean Dwyer and Daniel Fitzhenry. Mark Flanagan is in jersey no.18 with the promising Andrew Fifita – who has only seen 23 minutes of game time in the Tigers’ past two matches – in no.19. (We doubt he’ll get a run.)

Some random points of interest: the Dragons have won 14 of the 16 times they’ve led at halftime in 2010; Neville Costigan, Jeremy Smith and Michael Weyman have each lost to the Tigers just once in their careers – but the Dragons have won only five of 13 games when playing in front of crowds in excess of 40,000.

Watch out Dragons: They need to watch Lote Tuqiri, Benji Marshall, Robbie Farah and the back-rowers Liam Fulton and Gareth Ellis… although not necessarily in that order.

Farah and Marshall are masters of the lateral drift, where they inflict pain on oppositions one of three ways: they’ll dummy outside before picking up Ellis, Fulton or Chris Heighington on the inside… or they’ll dummy to inside runners and shift wide to the flanks… or they may even run themselves.

The biggest worry for the Dragons is reading Marshall – the Tigers have thrown more dummies at the line than any other team (462). But the double whammy is Marshall is likely to throw four dummies in two seconds – then put on a sprint of his own. He doesn’t need to score points from such moves – he just needs to get the Dragons in two minds and start to break up their rigid defensive structure. If he can achieve this, the points will come.

On their side of the weakness ledger, Jamie Soward needs to have his best goal-kicking boots on. Over the past few weeks even the most accurate kickers in Michael Gordon and Jarrod Croker have missed ‘gimme’ shots at goal that have consigned their sides to defeat and an NRL exit. Soward is ranked 13th in the comp for goalkicking with a worrying 72 per cent.

The Dragons need to improve on their pressure-building down the other end too – they have forced their opponents into the fewest line drop-out restarts all year (just 24).

Watch out Wests Tigers: The Tigers need to unsettle the Dragons and not allow them to get into their rhythm. The Red V have completed more sets than any side all year (78.5 per cent), missed the least tackles (659) and conceded the fewest line-breaks (3.2 per game).

Also, they need to somehow find a way to limit Mark Gasnier’ impact – he’s scored 20 tries from his past 13 games against the Tigers, to become the most prolific tryscorer against them.

While they are the masters of razzle-dazzle within their own half (see below) the Tigers need to make sure they don’t surrender possession down their end of the field – something they’ve done far too often in 2010 (78 handling errors in their own half – second most in the NRL). They can’t afford to do that in a grand final qualifier.

Where it will be won: Defence. That might sound strange given the Wests Tigers are arguably the biggest entertainers in the NRL, but hear us out.

Tim Sheens’ boys are the masters of innovative attack – they’ve thrown the most passes within their own half (2480). They also lead the comp for tries scored from long range, with 23 originating from within their own half – the latest to Lote Tuqiri off a beautiful set play from a scrum last week. But here they come up against the most disciplined side in the competition, one that has given up a miserly 299 points all year (just 11.9 a game!) and let in just four tries from long range – the fewest by any side.

Neither team really has a weak side of the field – the Dragons have conceded an even spread of 20 tries on their left side and 19 on their right, while the Tigers have conceded 31 tries on each of their left and right sides. So, good defensive reads will be crucial for both teams.

But the Dragons’ scramble defence might hold the key – they led the comp with 121 try saves through Round 26, while the Tigers had a middle-of-the-road 88.

The history: Played 19; Dragons 10, Wests Tigers 9. The Wests Tigers have won five of the past eight clashes and hold a 3-2 advantage in games played at ANZ Stadium. But the Dragons have won the past two encounters, including a 34-10 win at Kogarah in Round 16.

The last time the sides met at ANZ Stadium, in 2007, the Wests Tigers scored their biggest ever win over the Dragons (27-8).

Conclusion: The pace of play in the first 20 minutes will provide a great guide as to how this game will pan out.

The Tigers are the masters of getting a roll on, having recorded the smallest percentage of slow play-the-balls all year (7.8 per cent). Meanwhile opposition sides have tried to negate the Dragons by slowing them down, restricting them to the highest number of slow play-the-balls (11.8 per cent). That suggests the Tigers are in with a show of dictating terms – although it should be remembered that despite all the muzzling efforts of other sides all year, the Dragons still won the minor premiership.

It should be a close game for a while, although logic suggests leg weariness from a hard past few weeks should affect the Tigers at some stage. When it does, the Dragons have the firepower to rip their opponents apart. Look for that to happen in the final 20 minutes. Dragons to win.

Match officials: Referees – Shayne Hayne & Ben Cummins; Sideline Officials – David Abood & Russell Turner; Video Ref – Steve Clark.

Televised: Channel Nine – Live from 7.30pm; Fox Sports – Delayed 10.30pm.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finals Week 2 Preview - Western Suburbs v Wentworthville

The battle of the birds, take three in 2010, and this is the one that really counts. Despite Wests taking the honours in these sides’ previous two meetings in 2010 that will all count for nothing if they are to lose here. After some patchy performances at times in the last few months it would appear that Wests have been played into form courtesy of two consecutive meetings against the Wolves in recent weeks while Wentworthville came all so close to knocking off the Jets at Henson Park last Saturday but were unable to deliver the knockout blow when it was required. In team news Wentworthville has named the same side to take on Wests that almost got the job done against the Jets while Wests had the services of both Junior Moors and Daniel Fitzhenry last weekend and will have to wait until after Friday night’s NRL Final between the Tigers and the Raiders to once again find out if they might be available. Another potential wildcard for Wests is a couple of guys who have been out recently with significant injuries in Andrew Pearn and Jamie Sharkie. While neither has been named to play, considering what is at stake I would not be completely shocked to see one or even both of these guys on the park Sunday afternoon if they are anywhere near 100% fitness. Despite having lost their last two matches Wentworthville appear ready for what they know will be their last match of the year if they can’t produce the result they are desperately seeking. Close losses to the likes of both the Jets and the Tigers away from home in recent starts shows that they will be more than just nuisance value against Wests this Sunday. What a cracking way to start week two of the NSW Cup finals and one way or another it is certain that the Magpies will be facing the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in a preliminary final, the only question is which one?

 Western Suburbs Magpies Vs Wentworthville Magpies
Leichhardt Oval, Sunday, September 19
Kick-off: 1.00pm
Referee: Dave Munro
Broadcast: Triple H 100.1FM (Link available via’s Weekend Game-Cast)
Broadcast: 2GB & ABC Live updates from Leichhardt Oval

2010 previous meetings:
RD 4: Western Suburbs Magpies 30 def. Wentworthville Magpies 18 at Ringrose Park
RD 11: Western Suburbs Magpies 36 def. Wentworthville Magpies 16 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Finals Week 1 Match Preview - Wests v Windsor

The Windsor Wolves will need to bounce back immediately from their 44-22 loss to the Magpies last weekend at Campbelltown Stadium. The Wolves looked lethargic and disinterested in what will surely have the Western Suburbs side brimming with confidence for their trip across the M7 for this one. Western Suburbs fullback Rhys Pritchard has been in career best form of late and the Wolves will have to watch his kick return because it was a thorn in their side last weekend. Joseph Paulo returns to the five-eighth role forcing Ryan Walker to fullback and Ali Beale to the wing with Robbie Lee missing out. Western Suburbs’ game plan will be simple. Play off the back of the superior kicking game of Nathan Waters. Waters, at times, looks to have the ball on a string and the back three from the Wolves will have to be on their games or Waters will take full advantage with one of his trade mark grubbers or cross field kicks. Wests are sweating on the return of lock Jamie Sharkie who may make a shock return from a neck injury while Frank Puletua and Masada Iosefa have both been named on an extended Panthers bench for their clash against the Canberra Raiders at CUA Stadium on Saturday. Can’t split the two. Windsor may have a slight edge with the home ground advantage.

Windsor Wolves Vs Western Suburbs Magpies
Windsor Sports Complex, Saturday, September 11
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Dave Munro
Broadcast: Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via’s Weekend Game-Cast)
Broadcast: NSWRL Match of the Round to be aired on Fox Sports 2 HD and Fox Sports 2, Wednesday, September 15, 5.00pm

Rhys Pritchard - NSW Cup Team of the Year

Well folks this is it! It is finally time to announce the NSW Cup Team of the Year for 2010.

Firstly we would like to start by thanking you all for your assistance and feedback via your comments on and also on our New South Wales Rugby League, Facebook fan page. We have had such an amazing response by you the public and the NSW Cup footy fans in kind.

This type of response just goes to prove what a passionate bunch of supporters the NSW Cup fans are and we will continue to work with you all in promoting what we feel is the best second tier rugby league competition in the world.

Secondly we promise you we have been monitoring your suggestions vigorously over the past few days and taking all of your feedback on board with an open mind and no preconceived judgments about any player in any position.

We fully appreciate that regardless of the makeup of this side that we are about to announce, that the debate will continue and not everyone will be satisfied but with that said, we have had a job to do and we believe we have done it to the best of our ability with no favour shown to any team or individual.

Just so this procedure is fully transparent let me explain who, we, are.

Our panel consisted of the two NSWRL Media Officers in Brad Preston and Jamie Anderson who have provided you all with the popular Weekend Game-Cast right throughout the 2010 season.

This innovation has allowed you the fans the opportunity to keep in touch with more of the NSW Cup action than ever before via TV, Radio, Game-Cast’s, Photo Galleries and Score Updates, and we thank you all for your support and hope to continue to grow this concept with your help in 2011.

In providing this service, both Brad and Jamie have each attended at least one NSW Cup match per weekend right throughout the 2010 season, and in a lot of cases often more. We also have access to the full match highlights which you the punter view each and every week on this very website. To top this all off, Brad Preston was also the NSW Residents Media Manager, and in this role was privy to many selection discussions which was also used as a reference when forming opinions for our selections.

While most fans giving their opinions on whom they feel should make the side often have formed said opinions based on only ever really focusing on their favourite side, and to be fair this is only human nature, but we feel we have a less influenced view whilst having probably witnessed a wider spread of matches involving more teams in the process.

The third and final member of our selection panel is the Chief Editor of Rugby League News, Terry Liberopoulos.

Terry’s knowledge of both the NSW Cup and the Bundaberg Red Cup is second to none and like our NSWRL Media Officers, Terry is present around the grounds each and every weekend as part of his role for Rugby League News.

A couple of final points before we move onto the side, the first being that it is important to remember that this side is purely the opinions of the above panels members and is in no way the opinions of any other NSWRL staff or affiliated members and that the side is named purely as a point of recognition for all of the players hard work.

The second main point being that the panel has absolutely no knowledge of the Official Player of the Year points and hence these points were not taken into account when forming our sides. So it is quite conceivable that a player who misses out on our side may in fact still go on to be named as the NSW Cup Player of the Year.

Also lastly we tried to balance out our selection with a preference given to players who have played the vast majority of their football this year in the NSW Cup, and not the NRL. So before you read on consider this point with regard to the non-selection of players such as Kane Linnett or Sandor Earl for instance.

Ok with all that out of the way, let’s move onto the fun stuff. Here is the NSW Cup Team of the Year for 2010.

1. Michael Lett (Shellharbour Dragons)
2. Kevin Naiqama (Central Coast Centurions)
3. Tuu Maori (Newtown Jets)
4. Jamie Simpson (North Sydney Bears) (VC)
5. Rhys Pritchard (Western Suburbs Magpies)
6. Gareth Widdop (Melbourne Storm)
7. Pita Godinet (Auckland Vulcans)
8. David Gower (Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers)
9. Anthony Mitchell (Wentworthville Magpies)
10. Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm)
11. Matthew Ryan (Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers)
12. Daniel Harrison (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
13. Jared Farlow (Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers) ©

14. Josh Reynolds (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
15. Daniel Rauicava (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
16. Tim Browne (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
17. Joel Edwards (Central Coast Centurions)
18th Man. Lancen Joudo (Cronulla Sharks)

Coach – Paul Fletcher

There it is… Now let’s look at each position a little closer and also hand out some honourable mentions to those who were perhaps a little unlucky to miss out, and trust me there is plenty of them which once again probably speaks volumes about the depth of talent in the NSW Cup.

FULLBACK - Michael Lett

Just about the first bloke picked, an amazing talent with speed to burn and an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time in both attack and defence. Our main point of contention was whether or not he was best suited at the back or on a wing spot. We felt he was best served at the back in this side.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Sean Meaney, Trent Cutler and Johnny Aranaga

WINGERS – Kevin Naiqama & Rhys Pritchard

Two of the absolute flyers in the NSW Cup. Would love to see them both in a sprint over 100m. Naiqama had a standout year that saw him rewarded with his NRL debut last week while and he also scored a vital try late in the NSW Residents victory over QLD while Pritchard has been one of Wests best all year. Pritchard also has the durability to fill in at the back and an NRL call up won’t be far away for him either.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Zoram Watene, Sam Latu, Troy Savage and Curtis Johnston

CENTRES – Tu’u Maori & Jamie Simpson

Another really tough position for selectors but Tu’u Maori has been really consistent for the Jets all season long in a side that seen its fair share of disruptions in the backs, Maori would also handle our goal kicking duties while Jamie Simpson is an amazing leader on the park for the Bears and despite their troubles this season he has continued to give his all each and every week and continues to play well above his size in the middle third of the park. Simpson serves as our sides Vice-Captain.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Byron Fruean, Jonathon Wright, Simon Williams, Andrew Everingham and Sione Lousi

FIVE-EIGHTH – Gareth Widdop

The main debate for selectors here was whether or not to class Widdop as 5/8 or fullback, ultimately we settled on 5/8, a position he has played for his club, the NSW Residents and also his Country this year. A rare talent and a real competitor. Certain to star for the Storm in the NRL on a regular basis in 2011 and beyond so we should enjoy his talents in the NSW Cup while we still have the opportunity.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Tom Humble, Ben Falcone and Darren Nicholls

HALFBACK – Pita Godinet

Potentially the most contentious selection and also the selector’s most arduous one given the wealth of talent in this position. The competitions most prolific try scorer when you factor in a month or so missed due to a substantial injury. There is little doubt the Vulcans would probably be in the finals had Godinet not gotten injured and his blinding pace in and around the rucks makes him potentially the NSW Cup’s best kept secret. A star in the making and would already be a household name if he played for a Bulldogs or a Tigers. Has an uncanny resemblance on the park to Ben Barba and will most likely end up in the NRL like him too.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Craig Trindall, Blake Lazarus, Nathan Waters and Scott Porter

PROPS – David Gower & Jesse Bromwich

There isn’t much left to be said about David Gower that has not already been said. A thorough professional in everything that he does and would be one of the first chosen in most teams, well except Tim Sheens’ apparently, while Jesse Bromwich continues to play like a bloke ten years older than he is and like his Storm team mate in Widdop, appears to be being fast tracked into Bellamy’s squad for 2011.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Aaron Sweeney, Sione Kite, Andrew Pearn and Johnny Mannah

HOOKER – Anthony Mitchell

A real pocket rocket that appears to have gotten stronger and stronger as the season has progressed. This progression lead to his NRL debut a few weeks ago and he didn’t look out of place there either. His impetus out of dummy half may prove to be Wenty’s wildcard as they head into the finals series.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Ryan Carr, George Ndaira, Rory Kostjasyn and Alehana Mara

SECOND ROWERS – Matthew Ryan & Daniel Harrison

A couple of red-heads form our back-row and no real surprise that they play for the sides that finished on top of the table. This wasn’t an easy decision for selectors which is evident by the number of honourable mentions handed out below but uncompromising and workhorses are two descriptions that aptly describe these two tyros and Matty Ryan can also fill in two or three passes wider if required.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Aidan Guerra, Taniela Lasalo, Lee Te Maari, Marvin Filipo, Josh Davis, Brock Molan, Mike Afioga, Hep Cahill and Jesse Sene Lafao

LOCK – Jared Farlow

Packing down at the back of the scrum is quite possibly one of the NSW Cups most underrated players in Jared Farlow. A tackling machine that can also serve as a deputy to Mitchell at number nine if need be, Farlow is a no frills type player that will never let the bloke beside him down and for this reason we have selected him to Captain this side.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Jason Baitieri, Michael Greenfield and Jamie Sharkie

THE BENCH – Josh Reynolds, Daniel Rauicava, Tim Browne & Joel Edwards

A real Dogs flavor on our bench but that is no real surprise as they are the Minor Premiers and deserve to have a number of players in our team of the year. Reynolds capped off a brilliant season with a 38 point haul against the Storm and picked up the top point scorers gong in the process. He is the perfect utility player as he can fill in at 6, 7, and 9 or even in the back row. Daniel Rauicava gets the nod also due to his durability. His ability to play up forward or in the centres with equal affect made him a must have on our bench while the two props in Joel Edwards and Tim Browne have both been hard toilers for their respective clubs all year and are both deserving of filling a spot in our side.

Our 18th man in Lancen Joudo would also come into our squad as he can cover a number of positions much like a Josh Reynolds or a Daniel Rauicava and he was like many others, somewhat unfortunate not to gain a spot on his own merit in the first place.

COACH – Paul Fletcher

In a split decision, Paul Fletcher got the gig just ahead of Justin Holbrook. After lengthy debate it was eventually decided (and we say this with absolutely no disrespect to the Balmain Ryde-Eastwood players) that Fletcher’s achievement in taking the Tigers to equal competition leaders after 26 rounds was perhaps slightly more impressive than Holbrook’s given the cattle in the farm so to speak. Once again with all due respect we believe when you look at the two squads purely on paper, you could make a fairly solid argument that more would be expected from the Bulldogs squad than the Tigers, thus making his coaching achievements this season all the more satisfying.

Well there it is folks, a fine team and one that could challenge any side in the NRL on their day I would dare say.

Congratulations to all of our players selected and good luck to all of those in particular that are still in with a chance of winning the 2010 NSW Cup.

But with that said we now throw it open to you, the fan, once again. Where did we get it right? Where did we get it wrong? In all honesty we could have named three or four sides and still not pleased everyone but once again I believe that just speaks volumes of the quality of players in our competition and that must be a good thing… right?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rnd 26 - Wests Magpies v Windsor Wolves

In what will be a dress rehearsal of sorts for week one of the finals series, the Windsor Wolves will head across to Campbelltown to take on the Western Suburbs Magpies. Both of these sides will head into this clash knowing they are set to face one another again a week later, but this time at the Windsor Sports Complex, regardless of this result. Windsor will be smarting after suffering a loss to the Centurions last week and after their last minute loss to the Jets a fortnight ago, the club will be desperate not to head into the finals on the back of three consecutive losses. The Magpies kept a dangerous Vulcans side scoreless in the second half last week and managed to scrape home courtesy of a Nathan Waters field goal. The important thing to take from the clash for the Magpies would have been the previously mentioned scoreless half. Not too long ago, Wests had the best defence in the NSW Cup but most recently they have conceded 38 points to the Jets, 42 points to the Dogs and 28 points in the first half to the Vulcans. If the Magpies are to compete for the 2010 NSW Cup, they will need to get back to allowing teams less than 20 points per game as they were doing earlier in the season and I expect them to take that attitude into this match against an ever dangerous Wolves outfit.

Western Suburbs Magpies Vs Windsor Wolves
Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sunday, September 5
Kick-off: 1.00pm
Referee: Adam Devcich
Broadcast: Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via’s Weekend Game-Cast)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Harry Grove - Country Magpie

At a time when the NRL’s highest paid stars are being accused of greediness for demanding even more cash, a kid from the country has reminded every one about playing for the love of the game.

Harry Grove estimates he travelled 20,000km during the Harold Matthews season to Western Suburbs Magpies training.

That’s 750km a day from Tumut to Liverpool and back, all with a broken arm which meant he couldn’t even play.

“I sometimes got the Greyhound bus at 4 am in the morning from Gundagai which got me to Liverpool at 11 am in the morning.

“I went to training in the afternoon, then got the interstate bus back again at 8 pm, getting me home around 1 am in the morning. “ Said Grove

Asked why he undertook such epic journeys, Grove says simply, “I love playing footy.

“Coming from the country it’s a big opportunity to play in the Harold Matthews competition and Wests have one of the best junior development programs.

“I want to play footy at the highest level I can achieve. “  Said Grove

Even Grove’s teammates didn’t fully appreciate the scale of his effort.

“I don’t think many of the boys knew much about it until Coach Scotty pulled me up at training one night before I was about to leave for the 8.00pm bus and told the boys about how long it took for me to get to training, that when the boys are in bed sleeping I will still be on the bus getting home at around 1.00am.

“I don’t think many of them know where Tumut is, being a small country town. It’s the sort of place they might have taken a camping holiday.” Said Grove

“Coach Scotty is Scott Hartas, head of the Magpies u16 Harold Matthews side, who speaks highly of his young charge.

“He’d come in to training keen as mustard. He’s a great kid, pleasure to coach, great skills. He’s going to be a great footballer.

“He’s got such class about him. It doesn’t matter how high you hit a bomb, he’ll catch it.

“It’s funny when you coach, you get a bloke in and you think “oh my god”, I wish I could have 25 of him.
“The main thing about him is his attitude, he’ll make it.”

Harry shows maturity beyond his age, especially when asked how his parents felt about his travels, “I have very supportive parents and they are with me all the way.

“My parents have given up a lot of their time to run me all around the country from Dubbo to Sydney to Albury and even Tamworth.

“My mum and dad and older brother all helped with the driving. Coming from the country we are used to doing a lot of traveling for weekend sport.” Said Grove.

The incredible amount of time Grove gave up did see him consider throwing the towel in, but this young Magpie is made of stern stuff.

“It ran through my mind a few times with my broken arm being an excuse as well as school work. But I kind of had a vision of making it back for at least one more game.

“I like training and if you want a place in a team you have got to put in the effort …I think that’s what got me there in the end.”

Grove was inevitably rewarded for his commitment as his arm healed towards final rounds of the competition, “It was pretty hard sitting on the bench wanting to play but the season went pretty quick and I made it back against Penrith as starting fullback.

When questioned about the recent demands for more money from those at the top of the NRL tree, which included threats of strike action, Grove’s considered response again highlights his maturity. “It’s hard to answer.

“If you enjoy what you’re doing, money shouldn’t really be an issue.

“If you’re doing something you love and getting good money even better.

“But then again, I guess footy is a job for these guys, so like everyone else they just want as much as they can get.”

Grove has simple goals, “I want to play in the SG Ball (u18s) for Wests and hopefully make 1st grade for St Greg’s.”

But like all young players across the rugby league world, he dreams of playing on the greatest stages, “I want to play in the World Cup for either Papua New Guinea or England.”

And his coach seems to think Grove will achieve his dream sooner than he thinks.
“He’d make the Papua New Guinea side next year!”

Like all good country boys though, his loyalty to his hometowndoesn’t take too long to come up, “Hopefully one day I’ll end up playing back home for Tumut Blues first grade.”

The question of loyalty and commitment is raised again. Does he believe his heroes in the NRL still have their passion for footy?

“I hope so because they are the players that all the kids playing Saturday morning footy look up to.”

by AJ Carr

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rnd 24 Preview - Magpies v Bulldogs

Western Suburbs enter their match with the second placed Bulldogs in superb form after they last week disposed of a disjointed Melbourne Storm outfit at Leichhardt Oval. The Bulldogs bounced back from a shock loss to Cronulla with a resounding 46-16 defeat of the Central Coast Centurions. The Bulldogs have already sealed a home semi final but they are hell bent on claiming the 2010 NSW Cup Minor Premiership and a win here will keep the pressure on competition leaders, Newtown, who have a tough game at home to the fourth placed Windsor Wolves. Bulldogs back-rower Gary Warburton impressed against the Centurions last weekend. Warburton crossed for two tries and also turned in his usual workman like defensive effort for Coach Justin Holbrook. The Bulldogs back-row of Warburton, Daniel Harrison and Danny Williams will need to aim up against one of the unheralded back-row partnerships in the NSW Cup. The Wests trio of Junior Moors, Josh Davis and Jamie Sharkie have got the job done for Coach Leo Epifania each week with minimal fuss or fanfare and along with fullback, Rhys Pritchard, would be up in the clubs best and fairest voting. Nipping at the heels of the Newtown versus Windsor game for match of the round honours.

Western Suburbs Magpies Vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Campbelltown Stadium, Saturday, August 21
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Henry Perenara
Broadcast: Triple H 100.1FM (Link available via’s Weekend Game-Cast)
Broadcast: NSWRL Match of the Round to be aired on Fox Sports 2 HD and Fox Sports 2, Wednesday, August 25, 5.00pm

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rnd 23 Preview - Magpies v Storm

Magpies v StormFifth playing sixth on the ladder as the Western Suburbs Magpies top four aspirations go on the line against the Storm. With a maximum of eight points still available in the 2010 NSW Cup and the fourth placed Wolves some five points clear of them entering Round 23, realistically the Magpies will need to win their remaining four matches to be any chance of hosting a final. Four wins still may not be enough though as the Wolves play the Bears at home this round and also host the Centurions in Round 25, both matches they would be expected to win and that would give them 34 competition points and a guaranteed spot in the top four. Melbourne’s recent run of outs means they are now in danger of falling further down the ladder and potentially limping out of the finals in week one. A gutsy second half comeback fell just short against the Wolves last round and shock home losses the previous two weeks sees them battling to keep their grip on sixth place with little hope of reeling in Wests for fifth as they are now five points clear. Rhys Pritchard seems to have regained his early season form and will need to be marked closely by the Storm defence while Luke Kelly was at the centre of everything good that the Storm did against Windsor last round and will be a constant threat for the full 80 minutes. Jesse Bromwich looks likely to be rewarded for his stellar form with a call up to the NRL as Coach Craig Bellamy starts to prepare for 2011. Wouldn’t imagine there will be much in this one and you can expect it to be decided late in the match.

Western Suburbs Magpies Vs Melbourne Storm
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday, August 14
Kick-off: 1.00pm
Referee: Adam Devcich
Broadcast:’s Weekend Game-Cast, proudly brought to you by Teamm8

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Harold Matthews Coaching and Support Staff Nominations

The South West Sydney Academy of Sport is currently seeking nominations from suitably qualified persons for the following positions, Head Coach, Assistant Coach, Head Trainer, Sports Trainer, Manager, Strength and Conditioning Coordinator and Statistician.

It is requested that all interested persons contact the Academy Executive Officer Gerry Knights on 4627 7622, 0407415847, or email for more information. Applications close Friday 27 August 2010.

2011 South West Sydney Academy of Sport
Harold Matthews Coaching and Support Staff Nominations - Now Open

As in 2009, it is envisaged that the Head Coach position selection panel include one representative from each
of our five partner organisation. A separate panel including the Head Coach will be identified to support other
nominations, where required.

Thank you for your anticipated support,

Gerry Knights
Executive Officer

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Western Suburbs Magpies will hold their annual Hall of Fame Dinner at Wests Ashfield Leagues on Thursday, September 23.

This year's event will see three Magpie legends joining such greats as Noel Kelly, Keith Holman, Tom Raudonikis, and John Donnelly as inductees into the Hall of Fame.

Wests will also be paying special tribute to one of the most fascinating eras of the club's history with the announcement of the Western Suburbs Magpies Team of the 80s

In a tumultuous decade, the Magpies went from being a game away from a Grand Final to being kicked out of the competition twice and twice going to court to be reinstated before making a new home for themselves at Campbelltown.

It promises to be a fantastic night for all Wests and Rugby League fans.
Tickets are $95 per person including meal and drinks. Call Rachael Murphy on 8752 2062 or email to book your tickets.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rnd 20 NSW Cup Preview - Wests v Norths

The Magpies fell agonisingly short of a brilliant comeback against competition leaders Balmain Ryde-Eastwood last weekend. The Magpies piled on 22 unanswered points in the second half but couldn’t muster up a match winning try despite dominating possession and field position in the final minutes. The Bears clocked up their second win in a row against Shellharbour and now have the top eight in their sights and they believe this game is one they can sneak away with. Should the Bears want to grab the two points on offer here they will need to shut down Junior Moors on the fringes. Moors looked ominous in his damaging effort against the smaller Balmain fringe defenders playing a hand in almost all of the Western Suburbs’ tries last weekend. Western Suburbs coach Leo Epifania will be looking for another grinding performance from his unheralded back-row of Andrew Pearn, Josh Davis and Jamie Sharkie. All three have been in career best form in 2010 and many at Campbelltown believe they are the reason why the Magpies are in contention for a home final.

Western Suburbs Magpies Vs North Sydney Bears
Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Saturday, July 24
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Michael Laverty

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pictures: Junior Magpies take on Group 6 Country Cousins

The Junior Magpies U/13, U/14 and U/15 played against representative teams from Group 6. All teams put on a fine display of rugby league in front of a good crowd.

Western Suburbs Magpies Under 13's 2010

Western Suburbs Magpies Under 14's 2010

Western Suburbs Magpies Under 15's 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I am a Magpie

(To be sung to the tune of  "I am a Champion")

Today gentlemen, I am honored to coach you
More honored to be leading you onto the field of battle
But there’s another honor to be bestowed upon you
And that is in the answer that comes with that question:
Who am I? I AM A MAGPIE!

That’s right, and you need to remember that all through this game
I will conquer what has not been conquered
Defeat will not be in my creed
I will believe what others have doubted
I will always endeavor to pull esteem, honor, and respect out of my team
I have trained my mind and my body will follow
Who am I? I AM A MAGPIE!

I will acknowledge the fact that my opponent does not expect me to win
But I will never surrender
Weakness will not be in my heart
I will look to my comrades and to those who are a part of me in this world and those who have trained me
And I will draw strength from them
Who am I? I AM A MAGPIE!

I will gladly go out into the field of battle
And I will move in everything I can do
And I will reach my field of battle by any means at my disposal
And when I get there, I will arrive violently
I will rip the heart from my enemy, and leave it bleeding on the ground
Because he cannot stop me
Who am I? I AM A MAGPIE!

To my side I have comrades, comrades that have been with me through thick and thin
Who have sacrificed their blood, sweat and tears
Never will I let them fall, never will I let them down, and I will never leave an enemy behind
Because our opponent does not know my heart
Who am I? I AM A MAGPIE!

No one will deny me, no one will define me
And no one will tell me who and what I am and can be
Belief will change my world
It has moved continents, it has moved countries, it has put men on the moon
And it will carry me through this battle
Who am I? I AM A MAGPIE!

Defeat, retreat: those are not in my words
I don’t understand those definitions
I don’t understand when things go wrong
I don’t understand mistakes
But I do understand this:
I understand victory,
And I understand never surrendering
No matter how bad things go my heart and my mind will carry my body through limits and weakness
Who am I? I AM A MAGPIE!

Today will be that day
Not tomorrow, not next week, but right now, right here
In your house and in your homes
Who am I? I AM A MAGPIE!

History will remember me
I will not let worrying affect my cause
I will define myself
I will write my own pages
And no one will tell me what I cannot be
I will never give up
Not until I’ve given everything I got
Because who am I? I AM A MAGPIE!

NSWRL Game Cast: Wests v Shellharbour

1st Minute: Underway here at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. The Dragons kick off and the Magpies will get first use of the ball. As noted in the team lists, the Magpies are boosted by the return of Nathan Waters while unfortunately for the Dragons Jake Marketo is out and has been replaced by Mark Mooney.
2nd Minute: TRY What a start for the Dragons. The end of the first set and Falcone sets up for a 40-20 but great pressure by Aaron Henry who charges it down, regathers and charges 35m to score beside the posts. Scott Jones converts and the Dragons will play from in front today. Dragons 6 Wests 0
6th Minute: Wests have recovered from that poor start and are starting to assert themselves in regards to field position. Good to see Nathan Waters back out there after missing for a number of weeks due to injury.
10th Minute: Wests dodge a bullet as a rampaging Junior Paulo drops it cold on the 4th tackle right in front of the Wests try line.
14th Minute: Some razzle dazzle by Wests on the last finishes with John Skandalis putting in a grubber and ALMOST getting to it in goal but Jeff Zwolsman cleans up for the Dragons and gets them out of trouble. Great work by Skando, turning back the clock!
18th Minute: Most of the play is at the Wests attacking end at the moment but Wests haven't really looked like scoring to be honest... I'm sure it will come eventually but they will need to respect the ball a bit more before that can happen.
20th Minute: A penalty to Shellharbour 35m out and surprisingly they turn down the two and kick for touch but then turn it over almost immediately. Think they would like to go back and take the shot now!
24th Minute: TRY Well the Magpies are on the board, it was scratchy but it counts. Sharkie was brought down just short of the line and the ball somehow spills out the back and Kurt Kara simply picks it up and falls over the line. Everyone thought Sharkie was tackled or had lost it but the man in the middle Phil Henderson points to the spot. Sharkie converts and we are locked up at 6-6
28th Minute: TRY Great work by Nathan Waters who puts a pearler of a ball on for Josh Davis who is far too strong for a couple of Dragons defenders. Sharkies conversion is good and Wests now lead 12-6
34th Minute: not a lot to report here at the moment. A lot of the game being played between the two twenties and a few errors also stifling the flow
Half Time I wont lie people, it hasn't been the best game of footy I have ever seen but it is still close so at least we are in for an interesting second half... Back soon with the second half action

Half Time (NSW Cup) Wests 12 lead Dragons 6

42nd Minute: back underway here and unfortunately a couple of errors to start the second half. Obviously the half time speeches about looking after the ball didn't do the trick. Shellharbour on the attack though and will look to square things up.
48th Minute: TRY Great work by Everingham as he jinks and jives and sets off on a twenty metre run and eventually flicks one out the back ALA Matty Gidley, and it hits Troy O'Sullivan on the chest who scores beside the posts. Sharkie converts and Wests now lead 18-6. Big job for the Dragons now. They must score next!
53rd Minute: Things starting to open up here as the Dragons are now being a bit more adventurous as they look to chase the game and the Magpies are replying in kind... Pritchard and Kepa look most likely for Wests and Lett as per usual is probably the Dragons best avenue to the try line.
56th Minute: TRY I am a genius! Great ball by Junior Paulo sets guess who on his way to the try line??? Michael Lett. Lett scores out wide (as predicted by NSWRL Media) and Scott Jones slots it and we have a ball game once again. Wests 18 Dragons 12
60th Minute: The Dragons looked to have scored in the corner after Kepa lost the ball near his own line and a Dragons player dived on it claiming the TRY but it was ruled that the Dragons player stripped it one on one but propelled it forward in the process.. Close call for Wests
64th Minute: The Dragons are really finishing strongly here and they are being aided by some helpful penalties. Can they bring on a grandstand finish?
66th Minute: TRY WOW, big finish coming here as Michael Lett grabs a double with a simple run one off the ruck. Scott Jones adds the extras and we are locked up at 18-18 with a little over ten remaining. Will Shellharbour finally break the duck??
70th Minute: TRY Wests answer straight back as Alex Ranieri looked to be held up over the line as four defenders had him a foot off the ground but at the least second after what seemed like an eternity he rolls his body weight and collapses to the ground. The ref points to the spot. Unfortunately Gus Aiga hits the post with a fairly simple conversion so the lead is only 4 not 6! Wests 22 Dragons 18
75th Minute: TRY Great work by Falcone who has been brilliant in the last few minutes. He makes a line break and almost scores but on the next tackle the Dragons defence is at sixes and sevens, Waters sends it wide to Everingham who steps inside and scores what should be the sealer. Aiga kicks a harder conversion than the one he missed and it's 28-18
Full Time TRY as the siren sounds Gussy Aiga does his best Dancing With the Stars impression as he sprints down the touchline and scores. He converts his own try and at full time it is Wests 34 Dragons 18
What was not the best of first forties was well and truly made up for by a highly entertaining second half. Falcone was great in the second and was helped by the likes of Everingham, Pearn and Skando who were all really good when the game was in the balance.