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Balmain finals run keeps rolling at the expense of Wentworthville

September 17 2012

by Jodie Newell

Balmain Ryde Eastwood continue to defy the odds and have continued their finals run deep into September after beating Wentworthville 29-20 at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.

Down to 15 men, the Tigers overran the Magpies to book a berth in a preliminary final against Newcastle next week.

Like the Newtown Jets, Balmain’s run has surprised many, beating fancied opponents in Windsor and Wentworthville.

“We were down to fifteen men.

This is what grand final stuff is made of, character, and they showed it”

- Paul Fletcher, Balmain Ryde Eastwood coach

The Tigers were facing an in-form Wentworthville who had put in a credible performance last week against competition minor premiers in Canterbury Bankstown. The Magpies only lost the game by 4 points and were looking to carry that form into the semi.

Balmain looked primed for the bout, with skipper Sean Meaney gathering his teammates in close prior to the start, telling his men that “this isn't a home and away fixture, but a serious finals match and boys, we have to work to win it”. His speech was met with a rousing roar of approval. Meanwhile Wenty appeared businesslike prior to kick-off, with players taking the field in a quieter, but focussed manner.

Wentworthville would be first to score when they were the beneficiaries of a 40-20 kick. Fullback Jarome MacKenzie scored the first try of the game, with Jason Wehbe missing the extras. 4-0 in favor of Wenty.

The Tigers countered with a great run by five-eighth Tom Humble who passed out wide to Jy Hitchcox who dove into the corner of the try-zone and scored. Sean Meaney was unable to convert, the scores were tied a 4-4.

The Balmain defense gave themselves an upper-cut when they allowed the Wenty attack through their lines via a bad handling error. The Pies would take full advantage, punishing the mistake with Broderick Wright getting over for an easy try under the posts. The conversion was a formality for Wehbe. 10-4 to Wentworthville.

Balmain were determined to keep pace with Wenty, and were soon to score when Sean Meaney dived on a 5th tackle kick to score. He successfully converted and the scores were tied at 10-10. During the surge forward, Tigers winger, Jy Hitchcox suffered a nasty ankle injury and had to be stretchered from the field. He would take no further part in the match.

Wentworthville kept up their pressure and countered with another try, this time thanks to Justin Horo who evaded a number of tackles. Wehbe got the extras and the Magpies had the lead 16-10.

It was a bruising half for both teams with Wenty’s winger Dylon Gilbert suffering a heavy knock and the Tigers Hitchcox out with a bad ankle injury. With the taxing warm, sunny spring conditions, the break couldn't have come soon enough for both sides. Wentworthville had held a slight advantage of a single converted try.

The Tigers looked refreshed and began to challenge the Wenty defense. The “enforcer” Ray Cashmere never looked like being stopped as he crashed through the Magpies defense to score a solid try. Meaney sealed the conversion and the scores were tied at 16-16.

Balmain looked to be getting on top of Wentworthville, with solid tackling and punishing runs. Josh Davis took the example of Cashmere and he to barged through the Magpie defenders to score. Meaney missed but the Tigers now had the lead 20-16.

It seemed the Tigers were determined to blow the Wentworthville defense off the park with the use of their big gun players. This time Jarrod Farlow was next to score, getting over in similar fashion to Cashmere and Davis. Balmain Ryde Eastwood now had a handy eight point buffer 24.16.

Sensing their season was under threat Wentworthville tried mightily to get back into the game, but could not overcome a determined Tigers side. Josh Davis increased Balmain’s lead scoring his second of the game. Meaney could not convert. Tigers up by 12 points, 28-16.

With only minutes to play Tom Humble ensured a Tiger victory when he scored a field goal taking the score to 29-16. Wentworthville faced the impossible task of needing three tries to take the lead. Broderick Wright made a surging run, with a fellow Magpie teammate in Dylon Gilbert scoring a try. Wehbe missed the extras, but it was too late. The Tigers won a hard fought victory, advancing to a preliminary final 29-20.

Balmain Ryde Eastwood will play Newcastle at home on the hallowed grounds of Leichhardt Oval next Sunday. It should be a fascinating encounter, with both teams in excellent form.

Wentworthville would be genuinely disappointed in how their season ended, as they to were one of the better teams throughout season 2012. They went close in beating the Bulldogs last week, but were unable to match a powerful Tiger offense.

The club can take some consolation in that their Bundaberg Cup team will play off in a grand final next Saturday at St Marys Leagues Stadium versus The Entrance.

Wentworthville struggled to contain the big men of Balmain such as hard-nut Ray Cashmere (with ball)

image: 2012 NewellMediaGroup

Final score:  Balmain Ryde Eastwood 29 defeated Wentworthville 20

Tries Tigers: J Davis 2, S Meaney, R Cashmere, J Farlow, J Hitchcox

Tries Wenty: J Horo, D Gilbert, J MacKenzie, B Wright

Conversions Tigers:  S Meaney 2,  Drop Goals : Humble 1

Conversions Wenty:  J Wehbe 2

Referee: Matt Noyen

Touch Judges :  John Woods  Richard Daizli

In-goal Judges :  Peter Sciberras Jason Higgins

At Leichhardt Oval