Western Suburbs Magpies have battled bravely but come up short against the Blacktown-Workers Sea Eagles in a 30-20 defeat on Sunday afternoon at HE Laybutt Sporting Complex.
Despite creating a number of good chances in attack with all parts of the spine getting on the scoresheet, Western Suburbs were unable to build any pressure against the Sea Eagles — who showed great resilience to hit back every time they conceded — and eventually succumb to a 10-point defeat in the end.
The loss leaves Western Suburbs still inside the top eight on 19 points with the Newtown Jets (19 points) and Wentworthville Magpies (18 points) hot on their tail.
Coming off their final bye of the season in Round 20, Western Suburbs were dealt a blow before kickoff with Tommy Talau, Jacob Liddle and Chris McQueen — who were all potential inclusions after dropping out of the NRL squad — not named for the Magpies with the first-grade side facing injuries and possible suspensions.
Instead, it was the club's young guns who stepped up to the mark with six Jersey Flegg eligible players featuring for Brett Hodgson's side on the day.
After an early penalty, it was the home side who got the match off to the perfect start when Tevita Funa crossed out wide in just the second minute of play.
Josh Reynolds would show his experience and guile to hit back for the Magpies soon after and level the match at 4-4, with Jock Madden unable to land the extras from near the sideline in cool and windy kicking conditions.
Blacktown-Workers continued to find joy down the visitors' left edge and would restore their lead in the 19th minute when Abbas Miski crossed for his side's second try, with Kane Elgey landing the extras to push the lead out to six points.
As the arm wrestle wore on, Elgey would extend the Sea Eagles' advantage in the shadows of half-time with a penalty goal giving his side a 12-4 lead at the break.
Needing to score first to keep his side in the contest, it would be captain Jock Madden who stood up for the Magpies with some excellent support play to hit back five minutes in to the second half and cut the lead to 12-10, but the scoreline was short-lived as the Sea Eagles quickly responded with Miski getting his second.
Wests were dealt a blow soon after when Madden was taken from the field with an injury, but the Magpies continued to threaten in attack as they tried to hit back in the contest. Eventually hooker Soni Luke broke through the Sea Eagles' defence to take the scoreline to 18-16 with 20 minutes to go but the home side continued the trend of match by responding with another quick try to put the lead back to eight.
Zach Dockar-Clay's effort with 15 minutes to play put the Sea Eagles back up by eight and seemingly on track for back-to-back wins for the first time in 2019.
With time winding down, lock Sean Keppie would put the game beyond doubt with a try in the 75th minute — securing a much-deserved two points for the home side despite Bilal Maarbani crossing in the final moments for the visitors.
Western Suburbs face a crucial trip to the foot of the mountains in Round 22 as they look to keep their top eight hopes alive next weekend, taking on the fourth-placed Panthers before ending the year against the Jets (9th) and Warriors (7th).
Blacktown-Workers Sea Eagles 30 (Miski 2, Funa, Dockar-Clay, Keppie tries; Elgey 5/6 goals) def. Western Suburbs Magpies 20 (Reynolds, Madden, Luke, Maarbani tries; Madden 2/3, Smith 1/2 goals) at HE Laybutt Sporting Complex
Match: Sea Eagles v Magpies
Round 21 -
Venue: HE Laybutt Field, Sydney