Western Suburbs v Newcastle

Newcastle Knights have crushed the Western Suburbs Magpies, defeating the cellar dwellers 64-10 in round 15 action of the VB New South Wales Cup played at Campbelltown Stadium. The Newcastle Knights were never really troubled by Wests scoring eleven tries to two with sharp shooting kicker Josh Mantellato making ten out of eleven conversions.The Magpies were competitive but poor ball security cost them dearly.

In perfect sunny conditions,both sides completed their early sets without too much drama. The scoring deadlock was broken by the Knights with a try to Richie Fa'aso with extra point ace Josh Mantellato making good with the conversion. Another Knights try followed at the twenty minute mark when speedster Wes Naiqama popped out with a bursting run to score a try and the Knights opened up a ten point buffer.

To Wests credit they fought back and scored a try thanks to an outstanding line break by Dean Parata. Parata sprinted alongside the touchline unopposed, with Nigel Millgate booting truly for the conversion and the score was 10-6.

A key on-field issue for Wests that has dogged them all season has been poor ball security. Many times they have played with spirit and passion only to have their good work undone with turnovers.

Newcastle capitalised on the Magpies errors with successive tries to Josh Mantellato and Warren Schillings and the Knights had opened up a large 22-6 lead. A costly penalty against Wests five minutes before the half time break saw Newcastle score another try and with the conversion went into the sheds 28-6.

The second half could have started well for Wests with excellent field position in the early set, but again poor ball handling cost the team dearly. Newcastle cashed in on the turnovers and quickly scored another try and conversion to lead 34-6. Tries from Albert Kelly, Siuatonga Likiliki and Josh Mantellato saw the game totally controlled by the Knights at 52-6.

Newcastle reached their 58th point with Rodney Mason finishing off on a fifth tackle try and Mantellato converting. Rodney Mason could be heard from the touchlines praising the kicker saying “Mate this guy is just the icing on the cake”.With six minutes remaining the Knights scored another try via five-eighth Albert Kelly and another accurate conversion from Josh Mantellato.

Wests didn't give up on the hope of scoring a try and did so in the last four minutes, when Latu Fifita pushed through to score. Fafita was given the chance to convert but missed. Mercifully the full-time siren rang out leaving the score at 64-10.

For Newcastle, coaching supremo Wayne Bennett will surely be looking to his VB NSW Cup team for solutions after the first grade team suffered a disappointing loss to lowly Canberra on Saturday night.

Wes Naiqama will be pushing for selection as he and his fellow teammates ran amok against a Wests team who had no answers.

Wests continue to turn up every Saturday and try to play competitively. It’s not an easy task considering they don't have access to NRL level players. One has to seriously question the combined Wests / TIgers deal which appears to be heavily stacked in Balmain’s favour. It doesn't seem fair with the Tiger brand dominating in what should have been an equal sharing of naming rights and playing stock. A meeting by the Wests club to discuss their playing future in the VB NSW Cup is scheduled for later in the week.

Final score:  Newcastle Knights 64 defeated Western Suburbs 10

Knights Tries : J Mantellato 2, W Naiqama, J Sau, S Likiliki, A Kelly, A Davis, R Faaoso, M Williams, W Schillings, R Mason

Wests Tries : D Parata, L Fifita

Knights Conversions:  J Mantellato 10

Wests Conversions: N Millgate

Some Observations on Saturday:

  1. BulletThere is something not quite right about the TIgers / Wests amalgam at the moment. The Wests VB NSW Cup team is struggling at the bottom of the ladder. Unlike the Tigers in Balmain, they have no access to NRL level players which makes it almost impossible to compete at the same level. We have argued many times this season that the VB NSW Cup is of exceptional quality and is a superb format for NRL players who are out of form to improve and for other players past the Toyota Cup level to continue to develop and have a second chance at the bigtime.

We can’t see why a NSW Cup side said cannot be supplied by two sides considering the Cronulla Sharks team is supplied by its senior NRL list and the Melbourne Storm.

The Wests brand has a proud tradition and needs to survive in some form particularly with the AFL’s GWS now entering the western suburban sporting market. Strange as this may sound, the NRL should look at re-admitting Wests back into the national competition and have them permanently based out in the western suburbs, with the Tigers a stand alone inner-west entity. The one stumbling block is obviously money. The AFL continues to heavily invest, expand and grow healthy attendances, whilst the NRL flounders and fumbles with a product that deserves better. Whilst no-one is irreplaceable, the loss of David Gallop during the week wont help the NRL’s future cause.

  1. BulletYou cant help but be moved by the fighting spirit of the Wests Magpies considering their current situation. Players such as Aaron Sweeney and Seffa Silafau try to give their all against more skilled opponents. Unfortunately heart and passion alone do not win games. The Magpie mascot continues to run out with the team regardless of its on-field fortunes. What’s that about standing by your mate when they are down? Western Suburbs are very much an Australian rugby league team.

  1. BulletCampbelltown Stadium. Attractive venue, excellent media facilities contained in the new grandstand. Clear viewing, great surface, easy to navigate. Imagine if Wests existed as a single entity out here, this place would be packed on opening day.

  1. BulletNewcastle Knights were impressive. Josh Mantellato continues to amaze with his kicking accuracy. Surely Wes Naiqama will be recalled for the seniors after the Knights shocking loss against the Raiders on Saturday

  1. BulletRefs verdict: Due to the Knights dominance, the refs decisions weren't that important game shaping wise. A couple of off-side penalties given against the Magpies when they should have been called turnovers were perplexing.  5/10

Knights cruise to easy win over Wests

June 9  2012

by Jodie Newell

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Wests Dean Parata (right) sprinting through the Knights defence to score a try

Wests Aaron Sweeney (right) and Tom Morrison tackle Knight Josh Mantellato

Wests Aaron Sweeney (right) and Seffa Silafau give their all for the club week in week out