Western Suburbs Magpies Intrust Super Premiership side have made it back-to-back wins with a hard-fought 12-10 victory over North Sydney today.
Young gun Jacob Liddle got the scoring going early and produced a dominant 80-minute performance in the middle of the field, while stand-in half Bayley Sironen was equally impressive as Brett Hodgson's side consolidated third spot on the ladder heading in to next week's standalone Representative Round.
Highlights: Magpies see off Bears
Leading 12-10 at the break, it was a tough second half for Western Suburbs running in to a stiff breeze at Campbelltown but the home side showcased once more the defensive resolve that has hallmarked the season so far to hold firm and emerge with the crucial two points on offer this afternoon.
Playing just his second game in a row as he continues to work back from off-season shoulder surgery, Liddle picked apart the Bears ruck after just 10 minutes to give Wests an early advantage before the visitors struck back with a well-worked left edge move that saw Curtis Johnston dive over out wide.
Mawene Hiroti showed just how difficult kicking in to the wind would be with his sideline attempt travelling just five metres before landing in the turf, leaving the Magpies with a slender two-point lead.
After sharp work from Chris McQueen on last tackle earned the home side a repeat set and the chance to build some sustained pressure on the Bears line, it was Harry O'Toole who crossed for the hosts second try of the day — largely thanks to a magical cut-out pass from Sironen that beat several defenders out wide.
Tuimoala Lolohea ensured his good start with the boot would continue as he slotted his conversion attempt from out wide to give the Magpies a 12-4 lead after 25 minutes of play.
It wouldn't take long for the Bears to hit back, however, as Wests continued to be victims of their ill-discipline in defence; back-to-back penalties allowing the visitors to attack relentlessly before Billy Brittain crashed over from dummy half. Hiroti had better success with his conversion this time around, cutting the lead to just two points once more as the two sides entered the half-time break at Campbelltown.
North Sydney began the second half the way they finished the first, and looked likely to take the lead for the first time in the game but a sustained period of attack on the Magpies line saw them come up empty.
With Sironen off the field to a concussion, the onus was on Lolohea to stand up in attack and the fullback was incredibly unlucky not to seal the game for Western Suburbs with two clever kicks close to the line — both times finding the man in space but Braden Robson and Pita Godinet both couldn't quite collect.
Godinet looked to have sealed the win when he put O'Toole over with five minutes to go, only for the try to be waved by the officials with a controversial forward pass. In the end, though, it would matter not as the home side held on with a well-controlled final few minutes to emerge with a gutsy two-point win.
Western Suburbs Magpies 12 (Liddle, O'Toole tries; Lolohea 2/2 goals) def. North Sydney Bears 10 (Johnston, B.Brittain tries; Hiroti 1/2 goals) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium