A day of nostalgia as the magpie faithfull made the pilgrimage to one of their memorable and perhaps best loved old stomping grounds to watch the current crop of young Western Suburbs "fibros" take on arch rivals, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. Despite the rain all week, the match was well attended and particularly vocal on the hill between the grandstand and scoreboard. There were many old Victa, Masterton, LG and even the odd Ipec jersey gracing the grand old lady. The Return to Lidcombe match saw many old former magpies in attendance including Noel Kelly, John Hayes, Trevor & John Cogger, Mick Pinkerton, Bob Cooper, Mick Liubinskas Andrew Leeds & Steve Georgallis. Plus Mark the Magpie made a return and was on hand to entertain the kids.
The match itself however showed that the young and inexperienced magpies outfit still need to work on erradicating errors from their play if they are to perform to their maximum potential. Coach Trevor Schodel said he was very disappointed in the error rate and lack of patience when Wests had possession. The final scoreline of 46 to 8 showed that whilst Manly were the better side, their task was made much easier by the high error rate from the magpies from missed tackles, drop balls and penalities conceded.
The game however started on a high note for Wests when rookie five-eigth Chris Hay was able to evade a Manly defender who rushed up out of the line and then sidestep his way through two defenders to score in the 12th minute. Wests up 4 to 0. Wests then had a period of play where they had the lion share of possession but were unable to convert opportunities into points. Manly made Wests pay for their inability to take those opportunities when they scored in the 28th minute on the back of a penalty through Mitch Jowett. Liam Foran, who kicked 7 from 8 on the day, landed the conversion from out wide. Manly 6 Wests 4. Manly then made Wests pay again after a magpie attacker was penalised for passing off the ground when held and managed to score in the next set of 6 after a neat cut out pass created an overlap for the winger to score. A sideline converation made the score 12 to 4 with 9 mins to half time. Wests were looking towards regrouping after half time but a dropped ball a minute from half time enabled Manly to swoop on the error to score. Half time Manly 18 Wests 4.
Coach Trevor Schodel whilst annoyed at the errors of the first half instilled into his troops that the game was still there to be taken but the errors had to be cut from their play. However it was Manly who opened the scoring in the second stanza with a try after just 3 mins after a Manly player was able to burst through the defence and a neat side step planted the ball over the line. Conversation successful, Manly 24 Wests 4. The magpies however were not about to give up and after receiving back to back penalities, winger Merv Williamson who was able to pick up a loose ball after some scrappy play and score out wide in the 61st minute. Manly 24 Wests 8. However the lights, which had been turned on before the game, suddenly went out and so to did any chance of Wests making a comeback. Manly who had showed better ball control and valued possession more and were rewarded with former magpie Ben Falcone scoring after slicing through the defensive line in the 64th minute and then backed up after a break from the kick off in the 66th minute. Manly 36 Wests 8. Another dropped ball from Wests resulted in Manly scoring their 7th try in the 75th minute and complete the scoring with their final try in the 78th minute to run out 46 to 8 winners.
There were a couple of major injury worries for the magpies with fullback Amanono Tovio suffering a suspected broken arm whilst five-eigth Chris Hay suffered a suspected broken ankle and there is also some concern over niggling injuries to Alex Frail (hamstring) & Todd Sault.
Trevor was pleased with the performances of second rowers Seffa Silafau & Tom Morrison whilst another rookie, centre Michael Lekkas showed his potential with a sold defencive effort and good offloads.
Wests next game will be against fellow magpies, Wentworthville at Ringrose Park on Sunday 11th March before returning to Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday 17th March against last years runner up, Auckland.