Some may have thought this game would be a cake walk for the Dogs who are sitting alone in first place after a string of strong performances. They fielded a very strong team with most having first grade experience whilst another had represented Australia. They deserved to be favourites, pretty daunting, yes but those who prepared the boys were confident they could cause a major upset, and they almost did.
The Magpies pressured the Bulldogs try line for almost fifteen minutes, but the home team held firm. When given the ball in the 16th minute they charged down field. The Dogs prop forward Mickey Paea ran the ball up on the last tackle but he was held up over the try line. The ball came loose, but the Magpies were penalised for a strip in goal. The Dogs took a quick tap before using their big forwards to pepper the try line. The Magpies scrambled to hold out the Dogs, but Mickey Paea, running at an angle, barged his way in for a four pointer. Bryson Goodwin's conversion put the Dogs up 6 points to 0.
The momentum of the game swung from one team to the other, with very strong defence being the highlight. In the 28th minute, after receiving a penalty close to the Dogs try line, Wests second row forward Josh Davis switched the point of attack from the open to the blind side, wrong footing the defence. He appeared to be held before slipping a great pass to his mate, five eight Marc Russell who crossed for a well rehearsed try. David Fifita's extras put them back on even terms with the Dogs, 6 points all.
In the closing minutes of the half, the Dogs put on another try after they feigned to kick on the last tackle. The ball was passed along their backline to wing three quarter Junior Tia Kilfi who crossed untouched in the corner. The conversion was waved away. Dogs 10 Magpies 6. This try came against the run of play and certainly showed how dangerous the Dogs are.
The Magpies re started play with seconds left on the clock. The ball was kicked deep, but a Dogs player knocked the ball forward. It bounced to interchange player Chris Tuatata-Morrison who had chased the kick hard. He drew three players to him before throwing a miracle pass behind his back to centre three quarter Andrew Everingham who outpaced the defence to the try line. The hooter sounded as the conversion attempt was waved away.
The second half got under way in similar terms as the first half. Both teams were trying to crack the opposition and gain the ascendancy. In the tenth minute a clean break was made by Wests second row forward Leivaha Pulu. He sprinted some 25 metres before off loading to centre three quarter Taqele Naiyaravoro who continued the charge deep into the Dogs territory. A quick play the ball followed before Andrew Everingham crossed in the corner for his second try. The conversion from David Fifita was worth the admission fee. With the wind blowing, and from an acute angle, he guided the ball over the black dot to put his side in front 16 points to 10.
The Magpies continue to play their best football of the year and went close to scoring on a couple of occasions. They received a penalty in front of the Dogs uprights and David Fifita made no mistake claiming the two points. Magpies 18 Dogs 10.
The score line remained unchanged until the 36th minute when luck deserted the boys in black and white. A pass went to ground near the Magpies forty metre line. It was picked up by a Dogs player before he ran down the side line to score his teams third try of the afternoon. Bryson Goodwin made good with his kick, reducing the Magpies lead to just two points.
Both sets of supporters were on the edge of their seats, urging their team on - could the Magpies hold on or would the Dogs come from behind in the dying seconds and ruin the day. Unfortunately for the Magpies, the latter happened. After receiving the ball from the kick off, the Dogs made good metres deep into the Magpies territory. Throwing caution to the wind, the Dogs threw the ball around, eventually finding a gap in the Magpies defence to score the match winning try. Goodwin ensured the victory by kicking the goal. Dogs 22 Magpies 18.
Whilst the Magpies were unlucky, the Dogs hung in there until the end, eventually claiming the win. All associated with the Club can certainly be proud of the boys performance. They tried hard all day and in the end a couple of errors proved to be the difference. With only a few games remaining in the regular season the form shown by the Magpies in this game will certainly cause the opposition teams to be cautious when they take the field.
Scorers for the Magpies - Andrew Everingham 2 tries and Marc Russell 1 try. David Fifita kicked 2 conversions and 1 penalty.
Leos best three - Mitch Achurch, David Fifita and Troy O'Sullivan.
Players player medallion - Mitch Achurch.
Next game - Round 22 Wests vs Manly 3pm Saturday 6 August 2011 Campbelltown Sports Stadium.