The Wentworthville Magpies have secured their spot in the 2019 finals after an impressive 26-16 victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Redfern Metricon High Performance centre on Saturday afternoon.
There was added pressure on the Bunnies to secure the minor premiership after the Dragons earlier victory over the Bulldogs.The hosts came out of the blocks early, scoring their first try within the opening five minutes.
A clever short side grubber kick from halfback Dean Hawkins was grounded in goal by flanker Dylan O’Connor.
Wenty responded almost immediately courtesy of a sloppy four-pointer to Will Smith, with Rhys Davies’ conversion leveling it at 6-all. Errors gave the Magpies an opportunity to take the lead, which they eventually did after some ill-discipline from the hosts, in the form of a penalty goal off the boot of Davies to edge two points in front.
The ill-discipline Rabbitohs would then go on to concede another four-pointer with Wenty’s back rower Tepai Moeroa crashing over from close range. Davies couldn't add the extras meaning the score remained at 12-6.
NRL veteran Tim Mannah ensured his side continued their point-scoring ways, showing great strength to spin out of would-be tackles before barging his way across the stripe. Davies conversion was successful to give his side a two converted try lead at 18-6 with fifteen remaining in the first half.
An offside penalty to the Magpies again saw them opt for the shot at goal, with Davies nailing it to extend the lead to 20-6.
South Sydney showed some life in the dying stages of the first stanza when centre Levi Dodd scooped up a short drop-out attempt and raced down field, before being tackled 40m out. The next play, the home side looked likely down the scrambling right edge of the Magpies, though were called for a forward pass, leaving the visitors with a hefty 20-6 lead at the break.
A sickening high shot by Souths' Dean Britt on Wenty’s Jaeman Salmon was how the second stanza began. The contact saw Salmon assisted from the field, while Souths found themselves having to play the game with just 12 on the paddock after the referee sent off Britt for the high contact.
Despite being down to just twelve, it was the Rabbitohs who crossed for the first points of the second half. A beautiful cut out pass by Hawkins found winger Mawene Hiroti who finished it off with an athletic dive in the corner to plant it down. Hiroti snagged the sideline conversion to get his side within eight of the Magpies at 20-12.
It didn’t take long for the visitors to hit back through Ethan Parry who basically strolled over the line from five meters out to ground the steeden. Davies added the extras extending his sides lead to 26-12 with a quarter of the game remaining.
The 75th minute saw Rabbitthos O’Connor score a fantastic try out wide setting up a slim hope of a late comeback. This wasn’t to be as the Magpies held their nerve to etch an important 26-16 victory, putting them in good stead for next week's finals.