Second-placed Liverpool slipped up to Granville 0-1, allowing Fraser Park to draw just behind them following the Dragons? impressive 1-0 win over the hapless Northern Tigers. Cellar-dwellers Fairfield earned a terrific 2-2 draw with fourth-placed St George, Central Coast pipped Rockdale 1-0, and Parramatta trounced Uni 4-0 to snare fifth place on the ladder.
Rage upset Bossy
Granville Rage won a war of attrition against Bossy Liverpool at Garside Park on Saturday night, the home side prevailing 1-0 in a tight contest. Liverpool have not beaten Granville in four Super League matches and presented themselves as a top-five contender. Rage coach Lee Sterrey certainly sees it as confidence in all the right directions.
?I?m very pleased. It wasn?t our prettiest game of football for the year, but we controlled it for long periods and scored right on halftime,? he said.
?Liverpool came at us but, defensively, we were sound, and we didn?t give them much time on the ball at all. I think we deserved the one-goal win, but we can play better. We are improving, and the results have given us confidence ahead of Bonnyrigg [this weekend]. We have to step up to the plate.?
The two sides traded early encounters before a quick throw-in from Phil Pyliotis inside his own half released Nenos Bobo on a jiggering run past two defenders, and his finish lifted Granville to 1-0 up on the stroke of halftime. The second half was just as evenly matched, but Liverpool couldn?t find a way to goal and the fulltime whistle blew with the score unchanged.
Bossy coach Mile Todorovski lamented a drop in his players? intensity, but said there was still plenty to be pleased about. ?To lose is definitely disappointing. You can?t expect to win the game without scoring the goals,? he said.
?But, at the end of the day, the players played good, and the team is looking a lot different to last year. I?m happy with what we have accomplished this year, but we must continue to collect points. It is too early to say something – we are looking okay.?
Lions, Saints deadlocked
Dead and almost buried at 2-0 down in their clash against high-flyers St George Saints on Saturday night, you could almost forgive win-less Fairfield City Lions fans of looking for somewhere to hide at Norford Park. But a stunning second half revival from the Lions saw them snatch a 2-2 draw out of the clutches of what is already becoming an arduous season.
Sitting alone at the bottom of the table with one draw in the opening seven rounds, Fairfield?s year looked bleak enough before young Saints player Mitchell Keen scored on the half-hour mark. And it decidedly got worse when team-mate Matt Demetriou slotted in a second for St George right on halftime.
Whatever Lions coach Aydin Cetinay said to his troops at the break, it had the desired effect with a rejuvenated Fairfield taking the field in the second half.
Nabil Codmani immediately got the home side back into it with a goal two minutes after the restart, but they would have to be patient to find their second, Yavuz Ekinci equalising with 10 minutes left on the clock.
It was Fairfield?s second point of the season, and it took a dogged effort to get it. If the Lions can play like they did in the second half, they could just rescue their season from the brink of collapse.
For St George, the late draw took some wind out of their sails but they still sit in third spot behind leaders Bonnyrigg and Liverpool.
Dragons mangle Tigers
Fraser Park Dragons announced themselves in emphatic fashion with a bruising 1-0 win over last year?s grand finalists Northern Tigers at Fraser Park on Sunday afternoon. An Andreas Gomez goal with 10 minutes to go handed the Dragons their first win over the Tigers in over four years and saw them leap into third spot on the table.
But it took a rugged effort to do it, although Fraser Park were helped by the sending off of Tigers ace Simon Bell inside the final half-hour.
With personnel on the wane through injuries, and now a suspension, Tigers coach Hugh McCrory tried to get his players to disrupt the Dragons tempo.
But, as has been the case for a lot of this year, luck deserted the visitors when Tim Gledhill skied a shot from six-yards out after Daniel Nash found him with an inch-perfect cross just after half-time.
When Bell was given a second yellow card for an awkward challenge, it seemed inevitable Fraser Park would find a way to win.
Dragons mentor Alex Augusto gave his players strict instructions to counter the Tigers tactics with patience.
?We were very well organised in the middle of the park and I just told them to keep playing they were doing, don?t overact and the goal would come. I have to congratulate the boys on the way they went about their business today. I?m very happy. The Tigers are not an easy team to beat.?
McCrory sounded exasperated. ?It?s been a pretty ordinary year so far,? he said.
?As soon as I get players back on the park, I lose other players. I?ve already lost four defenders, and now we?ll have to wait and see how long Bell is out for. It was hard enough as it was out there; Once we were down to 10 men, Fraser Park could?ve scored two or three more.?
?I know we?re not playing the best, and I really gave them a serve after the game, which they deserved. I?ve never lost three games on the trot, and there?s a real lack of discipline in the side that needs tidying up. Last year we scored in almost every game. We?ve only scored one goal in the last 270 minutes of football. A couple of the players need to have home truths told to them, as it really isn?t good enough.?
Parramatta flattens Uni
A late flurry from PCYC Parramatta Eagles saw them defeat Sydney University 4-0 at Melita Stadium on Sunday afternoon and return to the top-five.
The first half was tight and tense as a pumped up Uni tested the Eagles defence but, with a 0-0 scoreline, Parramatta coach Jason Falzon couldn?t wait to get his team into the dressing sheds.
A quick word and the home side returned to the pitch with renewed determination, taking 20-minutes to find an opening goal, and then releasing the flood gates with three more to round out a solid result – Andy Amegashie bagging a hat-trick.
?We looked promising from the first whistle. It was a good result,? Falzon said.
?At the moment I?m just trying to focus on what players I had available. It?s been a roller coaster month with personnel. The young players have really stood their ground and, if we get some players back from injury, it will be an interesting second half of the year. We?re starting to build some confidence.
Bonnyrigg beat Mount Druitt
Mount Druitt Town Rangers are fast building a reputation for themselves as being tough to beat, but they must be rueing letting competition bolters Bonnyrigg White Eagles get over the line 1-0 at Popondetta Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Rangers played above themselves against the Super League?s undefeated pace-setters, only to let a small defensive error gift a second half goal to White Eagles star Goran Subara.
Bonnyrigg coach Blagoja Kulevski expected a tough match from Mount Druitt. ?We treated the game as though it would be tight, but to look at the three points. Maximum points will put the distance between us and the other teams,? he said.
?The trick now is to keep the players motivated. They have to keep their concentration or we will drop down the results. It?s a funny competition, and if you?re not on your game you will be found out.?
Coast eclipse Suns
Central Coast Lightning snatched a late goal to drown Rockdale City Suns 1-0 at the Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon. It was the Coasters first Super League win over the 1996 title holders, and they did well just to be in a winning position.
Rockdale have proved difficult to score against and they were also more than a nuisance on the offensive end.
With the game seemingly heading for a 0-0 result, the Lightning thought they had won a penalty for hand-ball inside the last 10 minutes only to see referee overrule the linesman?s flag. But their frustration was alleviated in the 88th minute when Tony Cornwall volleyed home a cross past the Suns goalkeeper.
Central Coast coach John McLafferty was delighted to make in back-to-back victories after four straight losses to start the season.
?Rockdale played very good football for most of the game, and I thought it was going to end 0-0,? he said. ?It?s a big plus for us to get a result. Most pleasing was the defence keeping a clean sheet, something we had worked hard on at training. The young boys are starting to believe in themselves and we?re starting to pick a few points up. It will be interesting to see where we sit after we play out catch-up games.?
This week?s games
Super League round nine action kicks off on Saturday night with St George hosting neighbours Rockdale, Bonnyrigg welcoming Granville, while Mount Druitt visit the Central Coast. On Sunday, Liverpool tackle Parramatta at home, the Northern Tigers take on Fairfield, and Fraser Park travel to play Uni.
-By Daniel De Nardi