The Wentworthville Magpies have shown they still have what it takes to play finals football with a spirited fightback to overcome the Wyong Roos. After trailing 16-6 at half-time, the Magpies posted 24 unanswered points to eventually win 30-22 at Morrie Breen Oval.
There were minimal late changes to either side, with the Roos bringing in centre Chris Smith for Matthew Ikuvalu and Jai Ingram coming on to the bench. For the Magpies, winger David Sisifa was promoted into the starting side for Roydon Gillett, while Daniel Howard and Adrian Ha'angana found themselves on the interchange bench in place of Cody Nelson and Nick Kassis.
Wentworthville opened the scoring through Joseph Ualesi in the fifth minute, with the prop spinning and pushing his way over next to the posts. Dylan Izzard added the extras for a 6-0 lead.
Minutes later it was Ualesi's opposite number who looked to have scored, but was ruled to be held up in a desperate Magpies tackle. Nonetheless, the home side continued to apply pressure but when Dominic Reardon dived on a grubber later that set, he too was denied a four-pointer. Offside was the ruling this time and two early chances went begging for the Wyong side.
The next time Wyong got a chance to attack, they mounted pressure on the Magpies; a repeat set came off the back of some Abraham Papalii and Omar Slaimankhel brilliance. Slaimankhel would be the beneficiary of a Tyler Cornish grubber moments later and got the home side on the board.
Three minutes later the Roos went back to back with some poor defence failing to contain a rampaging Mitch Frei. Cornish was successful the conversion the second time around and they led 10-6.
The Roos kept coming, but the Magpies were desperate to get back on the front foot - and when Honeti Tuha found space, they almost hit back. Tuha almost came up with a thrilling chip and chase but was run off the ball and that opportunity slipped away.
Usual prop Papalii found himself in the unusual position of left wing and was punishing defenders who stood in his way on his kick returns. Along with the Roos' big forward pack, they were clearly outmuscling the Magpies and it was only a matter of time before more points would come; a fantastic short ball from Cornish put Smith through a gap and Cornish added the extras for a 16-6 scoreline. That score remained until the half-time break.
The Magpies needed to make a statement early in the second half and in the 42nd minute they did just that, with Yileen Gordon crashing through the defence to score. The kick was unsuccessful but the Magpies had reduced the deficit to six.
After a failed Papalii intercept awarded Wentworthville a repeat set, Cameron King soon got his side another with a simple dart from dummy-half. When Izzard slotted the conversion it was locked up at 16 points apiece.
Possession was well and truly swinging back the way of the visitors, with Wyong errors and penalties in dangerous territory giving Wentworthville ample opportunity to edge ahead. They took their time in making the most of their field position, but in the 60th minute a clever grubber from dummy-half found Honeti Tuha who brought his side the lead. With the conversion it was 22-16 in favour of the black-and-whites.
The try seemed to be all the Magpies needed to make the most of their opportunities and a flying Scott Schulte soon came up with a spectacular take to extend the lead to 28-16 with the successful conversion.
Tempers were flaring between the two teams and with 10 minutes remaining, Izzard took another two from a resulting penalty shot. At 30-16 the result was all but decided, but the Roos were determined to throw everything at the Magpies in a spiteful end to the game. They successfully regained the short kick-off and Mitch Frei soon cut the defence to score his second, bringing the score to 30-22.
The Roos showed great desperation late in the contest and it turned into a scrappy affair as a result, but it wouldn't be enough and the Magpies ran out 30-22 winners.
Wentworthville Magpies 30 (Tries: Ualesi, Gordon, King, Tuha, Schulte; Goals: Izzard 4/5, Penalty 1/1)
Wyong Roos 22 (Tries: Frei 2, Slaimankhel, Smith; Goals: Cornish 3/4)