By Pranav Harish
Western Suburbs Magpies have finished off their season in style with a 38-22 victory over St George Illawarra Dragons in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup.
The Red V succumbed to their third straight loss to mark the end of their season in what has been a difficult last thee weeks, conceding more than 30 points in their past three games of footy.
The Dragons capitalised on some penalties through a try to Duke Grant who pounced on a grubber kick to put the ball down, and after a successful conversion the Dragons led 6-0.
Winger Jonathon Reuben was next to score following a Magpies knock-on as the Dragons laid on another four points once again down the western touchline. Reuben did well to put the ball down as the Magpies’ defence attempted to bundle him into touch.
Trailing 10-0, the Magpies were given a much-needed penalty after fullback Zane Camroux was tackled in the air. It helped his side get into attacking field position and score of the next attacking set courtesy of winger Jay Kirk who crossed over down the eastern touchline. Kirk’s try wrestled back the momentum for the Magpies who were on the back foot in the opening 20 minutes of play.
The Magpies produced some energetic sets off the back of points whilst trailing 10-6. After being handed another attacking set following a Dragons knock-on, the Magpies outside backs combined well to set Kirk up for his second try.
Lackadaisical efforts in defence left referee Nathan Loveday no choice but to keep awarding penalties against St George. It eventually led to forward Ray Jankovic scoring easily under the posts to take the Magpies out to an 18-10 lead into half-time.
The Dragons opened the scoring in the second half when Aaron Johnson was able to capitalise on a Magpies error to go over next to the posts. Johnson fought his way through the Magpies defence to get the Dragons within two points of the Magpies lead at 18-16.
The Magpies managed to hit back with another try to Kirk who notched up his third for the night. He did well to stay in the field of the play to score and take his side to a 22-16 lead.
Dragons hooker Connor Mulheisen was able to bring scores level at 22-all when he burrowed his way over although that would be the Dragons final points of the 2022 season as the Magpies finished strongly, running in tries to Jimmy Ngutlik, Tyrone Peachey and Brandon Tumeth to finish their season on a high with a 38-22 victory.
Several Magpies players remain unsigned as part of Wests Tigers top 30 squad including James Roberts and Brandon Tumeth while loan players David Nofoaluma and Oliver Gildart are set to come back to into the fold for both sides at the end of the season.
The Tigers are also yet to settle on a long-term halves pairing with Luke Brooks, Adam Doeuihi, Jackson Hastings, and Jock Madden all vying for a spot in the halves. With utility Tyrone Peachy drifting in and out of the Magpies and Tigers squads throughout the season, it will be a busy off-season for both sides to pick their playmakers in a bid to improve their fortunes in 2022.
Behind 12-10 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half, Dragons prop George Burgess was denied a try by the Magpies defence after the forward attempted to barge his way over to try-line to give St George the lead. The Magpies showed plenty of resolve in defence, repelling consecutive attacking sets which proved critical for Western Suburbs to halt the Dragons momentum.
Both sides have played their final game of the 2022 and the Tigers and Dragons are also out of finals contention in the NRL.