Western Suburbs Magpies have gone down in a tight 18-12 tussle to Mounties RLFC in their Round 13 Canterbury Cup clash on Saturday afternoon at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
The result continues a tough run of form for Western Suburbs, who have won just one game since Round 7, but can start to fight their way back in to the top four on the Canterbury Cup ladder with all of their next five matches at home.
Boosted by the late inclusions of Paul Momirovski, Elijah Taylor and Chris McQueen to go with a number of other NRL squad members, it was the Magpies who opened the scoring after 15 minutes when a towering kick from Tyson Gamble created an error at the back — allowing McQueen to scoop up the ball and dive over out wide.
Kauri Aupouri's sideline conversion fell just short, leaving the score at 4-0.
That would be the captain's last major involvement for the game after a knee injury saw him stay down in the defensive line shortly after. Mounties were alert to the opportunity and levelled the match through Brendan O'Hagan as he went through the open space, with Andre Niko converting to put the visitors in front.
With a reshuffled side as a result of the injury, Wests took a while to adjust to their new combinations but soon began to click once more and almost took the lead right on the stroke of half-time as Soni Luke found Taylor close to the line with a clever play, but Mounties were able to hold up the forward and preserve their lead.
After a strong run from Watson Heleta put the Magpies on the front foot, Brett Hodgson's side re-took the lead early in the second half through a spectacular finish by Bilal Maarbani, running backwards and leaping to catch Tyson Gamble's kick.
With Aupouri out of action, Paul Momirovski assumed kicking duties but was unable to land the conversion from the sideline, leaving the score at 8-6 after 45 minutes.
McQueen looked to have bagged his second of the game when he crossed off a grubber from Gamble, but was adjudged to have knocked on in the process — a crucial call that allowed Mounties to work the ball down field and back in to the lead as Niko crossed out wide after a late offload from Reubenn Rennie close to the line.
Rennie would add a try himself in the 68th minute as he latched on to the end of a kick from O'Hagan to extend Mounties' lead to 18-8, but the Magpies quickly responded through Kane Bradley to keep the game within a converted try.
With time winding down, Wests would have one final chance to try and level the match and snatch a draw for a second straight week, but Jack Miller was caught with the ball just metres from the line — allowing Mounties to hold on for the win.
Western Suburbs will look to bounce back in to the winners circle when they take on Newcastle next Sunday at Campbelltown Sports Stadium from 1:10pm AEST.
Mounties RLFC 18 (O'Hagan, Niko, Rennie tries; Niko 3/3 goals) def. Western Suburbs Magpies 8 (McQueen, Maarbani, Bradley tries; Aupouri 0/1, Momirovski 0/1, Gamble 0/1 goals) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium
Fullback for Magpies is number 1 Watson HeletaFullback for Mounties is number 1 Andre Niko
Winger for Magpies is number 2 Harrison O'TooleWinger for Mounties is number 2 Tony Satini
Centre for Magpies is number 3 Paul MomirovskiCentre for Mounties is number 3 Reubenn Rennie
Centre for Magpies is number 23 Bilal MaarbaniCentre for Mounties is number 18 Michael Oldfield
Winger for Magpies is number 5 Kane BradleyWinger for Mounties is number 21 Sebastian Kris
Five-Eighth for Magpies is number 6 Tyson GambleFive-Eighth for Mounties is number 6 Dean Matterson
Halfback for Magpies is number 7 Kauri Aupouri-PuketapuHalfback for Mounties is number 7 Brendan O'Hagan
Prop for Magpies is number 8 Oliver ClarkProp for Mounties is number 8 JJ Collins
Hooker for Magpies is number 9 Braden RobsonHooker for Mounties is number 9 Sam Duggan
Prop for Magpies is number 10 Elijah TaylorProp for Mounties is number 10 Vincent Rennie
2nd Row for Magpies is number 11 Luke Garner2nd Row for Mounties is number 19 Jack Murchie
2nd Row for Magpies is number 20 Chris McQueen2nd Row for Mounties is number 23 Royce Hunt
Lock for Magpies is number 15 Robbie RochowLock for Mounties is number 13 Reuben Porter
Interchange for Magpies is number 4 Sam McIntyreInterchange for Mounties is number 12 Jarrett Boland
Interchange for Magpies is number 12 Jack MillerInterchange for Mounties is number 16 Darby Medlyn
Interchange for Magpies is number 13 Alex SeyfarthInterchange for Mounties is number 17 Kyle Paterson
Interchange for Magpies is number 14 Soni LukeInterchange for Mounties is number 20 Duwanye Mariner
- Referee: Martin Jones
- Touch Judge: Benjamin Teague
- Touch Judge: Nathan Loveday