What a great day for football. Campbelltown Sports Stadium at its best. The
complex was wonderfully prepared for three senior games of rugby league. First
was the NSW Cup, followed by Wests Tigers NYC and Wests Tigers NRL.
Wests Magpies were determined to turn things around following some
disappointing results whilst Wentworthville were looking to cement their place
in the top six. Things were not made any easier for the Magpies following the
withdrawal of inform tight forward Josh Davis late in the week.
The pundits would have had the boys going in as underdogs, but head coach Leo
Epifania was confident, following a good preparation, they could get away with
the win. Wests Tigers NYC half Evander Waitoa was called into the side to make
his debut in the senior grade with prop Matt Davidson coming back from injury.
The game got underway after Wentworthville chose to give the Magpies first use
of the ball. The home team gained good ground during their first set before an
attacking kick from Joshua Murray saw the opposition receive the ball inside their
20 metre line. The advantage was short lived after the Magpies gave away a
penalty on the last tackle. A towering kick saw the visitors take a tap re start
on the Magpies 20 metre line and after a couple of steadying runs, Wenty’s five
eight Aaron Fluke ran to the blind side. He feigned to kick before delivering a
flat pass to a charging Karl Filinga who crossed for a well constructed try. The
conversion attempt went astray and at the 7th minute mark, Wenty 4 Magpies 0.
The game settled into an arm wrestle with both teams coming close to the black
line only to be thwarted by solid defense. No doubt, during this period, the
coaching staff would have been pleased with the lack of unforced errors from the
Magpies outfit. In fact not many chances were given by either team.
With time running out in the first half, Wenty put in an offensive kick which
rolled into the Magpies in goal area. The ball was collect at pace by wing three
quarter Lance Siataga who sprinted downfield before a kick early in the set was
knocked on by the opposition deep in their territory.
After winning the scrum, the home team pushed towards the try line before big
Aaron Sweeney came charging past the edge of the ruck. With players clinging
to him, he offloaded to his front row partner Leivaha Pulu who evaded a couple
of attempted tackles before claiming a try adjacent to the posts. David Fifita’s
conversion put the Magpies in front 6 points to 4. These were to be the only
points of the half. Midway through the first stanza, five eight Joshua Murray
injured his hand and took no further part in the game. His replacement was the
experienced Rhys Lenarduzzi.
During the break, head coach Leo Epifania urged his players to continue with
their strong defense and remain patient when in possession of the ball.
The second half remained scoreless for the first 29 minutes, with committed
defense from the Magpies being the highlight of the match. With ball in hand
and in centre field prop forward Aaron Sweeney showed a good turn of speed
before putting up a lofty bomb. He continued chasing through which put
pressure on Wenty’s fullback. After the ball was knocked on, it was picked up by
Leivaha Pulu who dived under the black dot for his second try of the day. Rhys
Lenarduzzi increased the Magpies lead to 12 points to 4.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, the Magpies knew the game was not done
and dusted as Wenty looked dangerous with ball in hand, but that changed
in the 37th minute when centre three quarter Andrew Everingham scored the
Magpies third. It came after the home team made a solid tackle, forcing the ball
to ground. It was sent wide to the hard running centre who carried players over
the try line before scoring in the corner. David Fifita’s conversion attempt from
the sideline shaved the uprights. Magpies 16 Wenty 4.
In the dying seconds, Magpie five eight Rhys Lenarduzzi picked up a loose ball
before sprinting to the oppositions 30 metre line. In the next play, David Fifita
was tackled inches from the try line before Evander Waitoa rolled the ball into
Wenty’s in goal area. It appeared that Leivaha Pulu, who had followed the kick
through, had scored his third try but it was ruled a knock on. It didn’t matter in
the long run as the Magpies recorded a fine win 16 points to 4.
In the sheds the Magpies celebrated with a fine rendition of their victory song.
Scorers for the Magpies – 2 tries to Leivaha Pulu and 1 try to Andrew
Everingham. One conversion each to David Fifita and Rhys Lenarduzzi.
Scorer for Wentworthville – Karl Filinga 1 try.
Players’ player medallion – Leivaha Pulu. Leos best – Leivaha Pulu, Rocky
Trimarchi and Lance Siataga.
Next game Round 12 Wests Magpies vs. Manly, Brookvale Oval 3pm
Saturday 28 May 2011.