Mounties have survived a late scare from the Wentworthville Magpies to record a 18-14 victory at GIO Stadium.
NRL stalwart Jeff Lima returned to the Mounties team for the match, while the Magpies also made a host of changes to their team.
Rising star and Mounties captain Lachlan Croker made it a perfect start for the home side 10 minutes into the match. Slicing through the Magpies defence with ease, Croker drew the Magpies fullback Latrell Robinson before passing to Zac Santo who cruised over under the posts.
Misfortune hit Wentworthville soon after when veteran Jeff Robson was forced off the field with an apparent leg injury.
A fluke piece of play delivered Mounties their second four-pointer of the match. Opting to run the ball on the last, Anthony Moraitis busted through some sloppy defence. A couple of hopeful offloads followed, before Santo poked through a desperate grubber which Magnus Stromquist was able latch onto.
While they had plenty of possession and attacking opportunities, Wentworthville struggled to crack the Mounties defence. A couple of poor kicking options on the last tackle didn’t help their cause.
With the half winding down, Mounties had the Magpies pinned on their own line. A quick pass out of dummyhalf provided Magpies winger Bureta Faraimo with a one-on-one opportunity against Dom Reardon. Faraimo brushed off Reardon and palmed away Mounties fullback Zac Santo. A flying Scott Sorensen appeared certain to bring Faraimo down, but he was able to make it 90 metres to score the visitor’s first try of the day.
Jamal Fogarty missed the conversion, with Mounties heading into the break leading 12-4.
In a match devoid of many serious attacking opportunities, the second stanza was dominated by brutal defence from both sides.
That was until George Jennings sliced his way through several poor tackles for a brilliant individual try. Fogarty converted to bring the margin back to just two points with 20 minutes remaining.
In very similar fashion to their second try, Mounties benefited from the luck of the bounce on their next attacking opportunity. Eddie Aiono swooped on a loose ball to extend the Mounties lead to 18-10 and give the home side a bit of breathing space heading into the final moments of the match.
Wentworthville threw everything they had at the Mounties in an attempt to narrow the scores, and Cody Nelson pulled out a piece of magic to slip a pass to George Jennings in the corner who was able to sneak across. Fogarty missed the conversion, keeping the Mounties lead at 18-14 with four minutes remaining.
A booming kick that was allowed to bounce almost proved the Mounties underdoing, but they were able to hold on to record a tense four-point victory.
The win keeps the Mounties near the top of the Intrust Super Premiership ladder, while the Magpies are stuck languishing near the bottom after just one win from the first five rounds.