NSW Cup Match Report: Mounties make it 4 from 4
Mounties have made it four from four in the VB NSW Cup and remain top of the table after a grinding 20-18 victory over the North a Sydney Bears at Aubrey Keech Reserve Hinchinbrook on Saturday.
In sluggish conditions Mounties got off to a flying start when clever fullback Joe Bond delivered a great cutout pass to Sami Sauiluma in the second set of the game for Sauiluma to dive over in the corner however the touch judge ruled that Sauiluma dropped the ball in the act of diving and no try was ruled.
Sauiluma then dropped a kick on to the very next set to give Norths great field position however he redeemed himself later in the set when he made a crunching tackle on his opposite number to force an error and hand possession back to Mounties.
Both teams traded sets and the game became a grind with some enterprising play given the conditions with Mounties having to defend extra sets after being on the wrong end of a 5-1 penalty count and Norths took advantage of this and opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a converted try to lead 6-0.
Just four minutes later Norths were in again and led 10-0 after the conversion sailed wide and looked to be making the better of the conditions however Jake Foster took the game to Norths and in the 34th minute he ran a great line and stormed onto a ball from halfback Mitch Cornish to score under the posts and make it 10-6 to the Bears and it remained that way to the break.
Mounties enjoyed the break and in the the 51st minute they flexed their muscle in the forwards when Rodney Coates bashed his way through the line and finished off his effort by reaching out and planting the ball on the line for a converted try and Mounties hit the lead 12-10.
In the 57th minute Matt McIllrick showed great strength when he took off from dummy half and burrowed over for a four pointer and with Cornish's boot adding the extras it was 18-10 in favour of Mounties at the three quarter mark.
The Bears weren't done for though and in the 65th minute they crossed out wide to make it 18-14 after the conversion was missed and just minutes later they scored again after a dubious inside ball was missed by the officials and with the conversion again going wide the game was locked up at 18-18.
Mounties weren't about to let the game slip away from them, continuously asking tough questions of the Bears defence and in the 75th minute Matt McIlwrick earned Mounties a penalty in front of the posts when he scooted out of dummy half and found some lazy North Sydney defenders in the middle of the ruck with Mitch Cornish slotting the penalty goal to give Mounties a two point lead.
The final minutes were frantic as Norths tried to find a way to win the game and Mounties defending resolutely until the final siren and victory.
The win was particularly bitter sweet for Rodney Coates who lost his Grandmother earlier in the week and his defensive effort and try in the 51st minute was a brave effort.
Mounties travel to Penrith next week when they take on the Panthers on Saturday with the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield teams taking on Blacktown Workers also on Saturday.