Wests Magpies were the first on deck for a double header at Henson Park, Newtown. Their opponents were the inform Cronulla Sharks who are in clear 2nd place on the ladder. A number of players, including the experienced Beau Champion were sent back from Melbourne Storm to bolster an already strong team which included Johnny Mannah, Paul Aiton, Stuart Flanagan, Dean Collis and Albert Kelly.
Magpies Captain and second row forward Rocky Trimarchi seems certain to be ruled out for the remainder of the season after suffering a hand injury during last weeks game against Manly, whilst Taqele Naiyavavaro and Jay Maseuli were called into Wests Tigers NYC 20's team after putting in strong performances in the NSW Cup.
It didn’t take long for the forwards from both camps set the scene for what was to be a good game of old fashioned rugby league where the boys threw everything into their attack and defense. In the 10th minute, Magpies Arthur Little went on a darting run around the edge of the ruck. With space in front of him he put in an attacking kick which was knocked on by a Sharks player. Fortune favoured Arthur who collected the rebound before grounding the ball over the Sharks try line. David Fifita's conversion attempt was waved away. Magpies 4 Sharks 0.
The game remained an arm wrestle with both teams putting their bodies on the line trying to gain the upper hand. This continued until the 36th minute when Magpies centre three quarter Chris Tuatara-Morrison spotted a gap out wide. He threw a great pass to his centre partner Andrew Everingham who drew players to him before returning the ball to Tuatara-Morrison. Quick hands saw the ball taken by fullback Rhys Lenarduzzi who scored his teams second try alongside the posts. With the shade of half time approaching, David Fifita made sure his team would go into the sheds leading 10 points to nil.
The second half was only a few minutes old when the Sharks were caught in possession on the last tackle. A long cut out pass was thrown, but the elusive Amanono Tovio grabbed the ball before giving it to Andrew Everingham who raced away to score his teams third try. With the missed goal, Wests still held a handy 14 points to nil advantage.
The Sharks replied with tries to John Williams and Matt Wright to reduce the Magpies lead to just six points, but in the dying minutes the Magpies received a penalty within kicking range. This time David Fifita made no mistake, increasing the Magpies lead to 16 points to 8.
In the end the Magpies grounded out a fine win against a more fancied team. Head coach Leo Epifania stated he was glad the boys put together two wins in a row after just being beaten in round 21 by the Dogs. He indicated that both of his halves, Marc Russell and Arthur Little had combined well throughout the game.
The second game saw Manly defeat the Jets 24 to 10 in what was a great turn around from their previous weeks outing.
The Magpies next game will be their last at home for the 2011 season so lets make it a memorable day – turn up at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in big numbers and show your support for the Mighty Magpies who have been around since 1908.
Scorers for the Magpies - Tries to Mark Russell, Rhys Lenarduzzi and Andrew Everingham. 1 conversion and 1 penalty to David Fifita.
Leos best three - Marc Russell, Arthur Little and Troy O'Sullivan.
Players player medallion - Josh Davis and Mark Russell.
Next game - Round 24 Wests Magpies vs. Windsor Wolves 3pm Saturday 20 August 2011 Campbelltown Sports Stadium.