Western Suburbs overcame a sluggish start in wet and windy conditions to down Guildford 26-24 last weekend at Lidcombe Oval.
Wests were quick to apply the pressure to the Owls and capitalised early, with a perfectly executed run around play enticing Guildford to break their line, David Atuau slicing through to open the scoring for the afternoon. Jai Karam slotted the conversion attempt and Wests were up 6-0 after nine minutes.
Guildford responded eight minutes later, with Dylan McKeown taking advantage of a split in the Magpie marker defence to send former Magpie SG Ball captain Mitchell Brassington on his way. Brassington converted his own try to level the scores after 18 minutes.
The heavens opened and forced both sides to play a grinding game which seemed to suit Guildford better. Wests tried to halt the momentum by belting through on a David Atuau kick, perhaps a little too quickly though, as Corey Makelim burst through a tiny hole in the Wests line and motored 50 metres before putting Mitchell Brassington over for his second. Brassington again added the extras from in front and Guildford led 12-6 with ten minutes to the break.
A Magpie knock-on gave Guildford an opportunity to add to their tally just two minutes later, and the right side movement saw John Folau get around his opposite before providing a Gidley-esque pass for Halaufu Lavaka to sneak over in the corner. Brassington had his gold rather than maroon boots on, piloting the conversion over from touch to put Guildford 12 clear with 7 minutes to the interval.
Guildford looked to play their hand a little too aggressively, though, and a short ball from Dylan McKeown was put down by Chad McGill. From the ensuing set, Magpies centre Sam Aiga pinned his ears back and, in an effort that would have done Dallas Donnelly proud, somehow found the line with several Guildford defenders hanging on. Jai Karam pushed the conversion across the face of the goal, Guildford hanging on to their 18-10 lead through to oranges.
Western Suburbs were desperate to start the second half well in defence to ensure they stayed in the contest but Owls halfback Mark Daoud had other ideas, coming up with a booming 40-20 to put Wests on the back foot early. Wests admirably withstood the first attacking opportunity for either side in the second stanza, holding up both Chad McGill and Luke Vescio before taking possession back.
After this, the standard of the game matched the conditions, with both sides guilty of handling errors compounded by penalties, although these errors could be explained by too much effort rather than a lack of it.
Wests needed to score first in the second stanza and did so after 52 minutes, with a left hand move seeing Amanono Tovio drift across field and, despite howls of protests for obstruction by the Guildford faithful, a short ball found winger Tuiniua Paiaaua, who stretched out to touch down despite the attention of Corey Makelim. Jai Karam’s conversion attempt was high enough but not long enough, Wests getting back to within four points, a very gettable margin with 27 minutes on the clock.
Wests looked to push to the right side five minutes later, but put the ball into touch rather than over the Guildford goal line. Mark Daoud only needed a split second with a very nifty turn of speed to dart 60 odd metres to score Guildford’s fourth of the afternoon. Mitchell Brassington again added the extras, Guildford getting out to a double digit lead with 20 minutes to play.
Guildford settled into a neat rhythm and were provided an opportunity to post their fifth try after a late tackle penalty; however the ball went to ground. Wests secured a penalty for stealing the ball and took full advantage. David Atuau found space to send Mason Talolua away down the left, who found Dayne Craig backing up on the inside to score. Jai Karam added the extras, and Wests were back in touch at 24-20.
Guildford kicked off and Wests looked to repeat the dose down the left side, trying their luck immediately. Another long Atuau ball found Sam Aiga, who flew through the line before finding Tuiniua Paiaaua on the inside, who raced the last 20 metres to level the scores much to the delight of the Magpies faithful. Jai Karam added the extras to put Wests up 26-24 with 10 minutes left.
Guildford had three opportunities to steal the win, but the Magpies defence held firm.
For Wests, it was a case of same old same old, with Dean Rysko a towering figure, while Jerome Mose and David Atuau showed enormous enthusiasm and control. For the Owls, Mitchell Brassington was far and away the best, while Luke Vescio and Corey Makelim could also hold their heads very high.
The match provided a victory for Magpies coach Leo Epifania over his old boss Steve Ghosn, the two going back to, ironically enough, the days of Western Suburbs playing out of Lidcombe Oval.
Next weekend Wests go to Wentworthville on Sunday, while Guildford will host Mounties on Saturday.
WESTERN SUBURBS 26 (Tuiniua Paiaaua 2, David Atuau, Sam Aiga, Dayne Craig tries; Jai Karam 3 from 5) def GUILDFORD 24 (Mitchell Brassington 2, Halaufu Lavaka, Mark Daoud tries; Mitchell Brassington 4 from 4)
Penalties: Wests 5 Guildford 5
Halftime: Wests 10 Guildford 18
1. Amanono Tovio
2. Tuiniua Paaiaua
3. Sam Aiga
20. Jake Pearce
11. Jerome Mose
6. David Atuau
7. Jai Karam
8. Dean Rysko ©
15. Dayne Craig
14. Matiasi Toutai
13. Sonny Bristow
19. Mason Talolua
10. Todd Makejev
9. Matt Jones
16. Joel Jasmine
17. Tala Mapesone
22. Frederick Tevaga
1. Corey Makelim
2. Sam Manuleleua
3. John Folau
4. James Tuitahi
5. Halaufu Lavaka
6. Mitchell Brassington
7. Mark Daoud
8. Charlie Farah
14. Michael Luong
10. Chad McGill
11. Dylan McKeown
16. Grant Jordon
13. Jordon Latham
9. Luke Vescio
12. Jordon Abouhaider
15. Will Bugden
17. William Siali