Title-holders Bonnyrigg increased their NSW Super League lead to seven points with a tough 1-0 win over Granville, Parramatta jumped to third with a 3-0 demolition of second-placed Liverpool, while the Tigers drew level with Fraser Park in fourth spot, a point behind the Eagles, following their 3-0 victory against Fairfield. St George and Rockdale fought out a 3-3 draw, Mount Druitt and Central Coast drew 1-1 and Uni annihilated the Dragons 4-1.
Local derby thriller
St George Saints and neighbours Rockdale City Suns battled it out in a six-goal thriller at Belmore Sportsground on Saturday night, the game ending in a 3-3 draw. The result kept both teams mid-table, and extended Rockdale?s unbeaten Super League run against St George to four games.
The Saints got the jump on their cross-town rivals with goals to David Wilson and Mitchell Fihlebon handing the home side a 2-0 halftime lead. But three goals in a little over 10 minutes to start the second term ? to Peter Apolevski, David Nastovski and recently-returned Goce Trposki ? saw the Suns turn the tables and take a 3-2 lead. With the momentum all with Rockdale, Saints defender Daniel Fallico stepped up to score an unlikely equaliser to round out a 3-3 scoreline.
St George coach John Calleja was rueful about throwing away a two-goal lead, but credited his players for bouncing back to level the scores against the run of play. ?It was a big game and we played pretty well in the first half. We just fell asleep early in the second half, our intensity was low, there was a lack of concentration and this allowed for poor errors. This happens to us quite a bit, where we lose our focus for a little while and our heads drop,? he said.
?It was one of those matches where we were probably were a little lucky. They could have gone more goals up and we would have been gone. The boys have to learn to play for the full 90 minutes. But I do have to give them credit, to get an equaliser showed a lot of character in that way. I guess the spectators got a bit of excitement with all the goals, but from a coaching point of view, you wouldn?t be happy conceding that many goals. We?re still ticking over.?
Rockdale mentor Michael Grbevski was delighted to see his side score multiple goals. ?We woke up in the second half. We were giving the ball away too cheaply, and we needed to close the midfield up. Having Trposkoi up front gave us a target man that could bring the midfield into the game. We?ve been able to create chances, and now we have someone that can finish off, and that makes a difference. St George is a good side. I would?ve been happy with three points, but the way the game went, I think a draw is a fair result.?
Bonnyrigg down Granville
Defending champions Bonnyrigg White Eagles strengthened their grip at the top of the table with a dour 1-0 win over Granville Rage at Bonnyrigg Sports Club on Saturday night. In a match where four players were sent off, a Giovanni Leuzzi top-corner strike inside the closing quarter-hour decided the result for the White Eagles, elevating them seven points clear at the top of the table. Granville are now hovering three points outside the top-five.
Bonnyrigg coach Blagoja Kulevski was happy to grind out a win, especially with eight players left on the pitch, but he will now have a selection nightmare as Paul Cotte, Mark D?Allesandro and Daniel Willoughby each serve suspensions. Granville had it tougher after star striker Nenos Bob was sent off in just the second minute for a headbutt on D?Allesandro. Later, White Eagles midfielder Steve Bozinovski missed a one-on-one with the keeper that could have settled the match, while Rage player Nicolas McInerney hit the post in injury time.
?It was good to win but I?m not happy that I lost three players. I thought it was a little unfair to send Daniel Willoughby off for wasting time. We were a goal in front and this is normal play from every team,? he said. ?Granville struggled without their striker [Bobo], but maybe we play a little better if it was 11 on 11. Next week, I will give the younger players a go. With a little gap at the front, I have the chance to experiment and look at other players.?
Granville coach Lee Sterrey thought his side deserved more than what they got. ?We certainly deserved a point for all our efforts. Without going into what happened before it, what Bobo did was ridiculous. I made him club captain so he would stand up more and he lasted one minute. But, our blokes were enormous, they were excellent. They defended strongly and we hit them on the break and had a few half-chances by half-time. Whereas, I thought Bonnyrigg did very little with all the possession they had.?
?In fact, we could have scored a minute before they did, but missed a two-on-one chance; and McInerney, who had a great time as right-stopper, blasted a 30-yard shot that hit the cross bar and came back out 25 yards. Bonnyrigg has a good squad and I would?ve loved to have seen Bobo on the park against them. It was a good night to measure where we?re at and I have to admire the enthusiasm from the players. Bonnyrigg are the benchmark, but I think there are a few question marks hanging still over them.?
Mount draw on the Coast
Mount Druitt Town Rangers returned home from Pluim Park on Saturday night with a 1-1 draw with Central Coast Lightning, their fifth draw in eight matches. It consigned both Mount Druitt and Central Coast to the bottom three but showed that both teams would be hard to defeat this year. After five one-touch passes and a cross from James Lobb, a Brad Porter far-post header sent the Lightning in front on 65-minutes, only for Adam Roscoe to level the scores with an 88th-minute goal for the Rangers.
Central Coast coach John McLafferty said a draw was a fair result. ?To be honest, there wasn?t much between the teams. I can see why [Mount Druitt] don?t lose many goals, and I can see why they don?t score many goals ? they are a very compact side and hard to break down. What?s more concerning is we have a lot of injuries at moment, and picked up quite a few knocks is both grades this weekend [goalkeeper Troy Ward is out six weeks with a quad strain], so I?ll be surprised if we can field a full team for the midweek [catch-up] game against Parramatta.?
Parramatta pummel Liverpool
PCYC Parramatta Eagles made it three Super League wins on the trot against Bossy Liverpool with a neat 3-0 win at Ernie Smith Reserve on Sunday afternoon. A first half goal to Nathan Rivera, followed by a second half double to Andy Amegashie, settled the affair for Parramatta, who moved to within a point of second-placed Liverpool on the points table. Bossy?s chances of winning were dealt a huge blow when leading goalscorer Alex Canak was sent-off for swearing.
Eagles mentor Jason Falzon called the three-goal victory a very good result. ?It is a clich? but, when you get players back from injury, it becomes that little bit easier. What?s good is our younger players have gained more experience. I?m happy with how the boys have responded,? he said. ?Bonnyrigg are a strong side with a pretty big budget to work with, but as teams like Bossy, St George, ourselves, and the Tigers get near full strength, we should be more competitive.?
Liverpool coach Mile Todorovski couldn?t explain the send-off. ?From my understanding, the referee called Alex [Canak] for offside, the player has sworn, whether it was at himself or the referee, and gets a straight red card. But if you give a red a card for everything like this, the game will finish early every time. It was a big loss, but it is very difficult to come back from there. We created good chances but it was too long a time without a full team. I?m not going to cry as it is not the end of the world, we look forward to another day.?
Tigers better than Lions
For the Northern Tigers, a 3-0 win over bottom club Fairfield City Lions at Mills Park on Sunday afternoon was just the tonic they needed to rejuvenate their 2008 campaign. A hat-tick from Daniel Nash, scoring in the 15th, 75th and 85th minute, proved the difference as Fairfield slumped to their fifth straight Super League loss to the Tigers, who returned to the top-five after a bumpy month of inconsistent results. The win-less Lions have conceded 26 goals to register two competition points from eight games.
Northern mastermind Hugh McCrory wasn?t overly satisfied with the performance of his troops, but he?ll gladly take the three points. ?To be honest, we were ordinary at times. It?s a good result, but we didn?t play well. It was very patchy, but we pulled it off. I feel like we?ve gone through the rough patch and, hopefully, we can bounce back as the players return. The beer definitely tastes better when you win.?
Fairfield coach Aydin Cetinay had a simple take on the game, and his team?s run of poor results. ?We can?t score goals and we need a striker. The team is capable of winning, but we just haven?t had any luck. We created many chances throughout the game and just couldn?t take them, we don?t have the finishing touch to finish teams off. The Tigers finished off their chances and that was the difference. My main issue is to get the team in order. I believe that first win is just around the corner.?
Uni romp in the Park
Sydney University pegged high-flyers Fraser Park Dragons down a notch with a 4-1 win at Uni Oval on Sunday afternoon. James Alcorn broke through on 10 minutes to put Uni in front, Aaron Kidd making it 2-0 by halftime. A Mike Karagianos goal on 60-minutes extended the Uni lead before Koji Sasaki?s goal a minute later brought it back to 3-1. A second score for Alcorn in injury time sealed the 4-1 win. But post-game talk centred on the cricket pitch in the middle of the playing field.
Uni coach Bruce Tilt was wearing a big grin after the game. ?I?m very happy indeed, they?re another top-three team we have taken the game to. I think we surprised them with how strong we were. We are certainly making Uni our domain. [The cricket pitch issue] is a fair call, we know how to move the ball across there. But that was the pitch both sides had to play on.?
On the matter of whether his team can rack up consecutive results, Tilt was more philosophical. ?I honestly don?t think we will be consistent, the oldest guy out there for us was 23 years old. But being inconsistent only adds to how dangerous we are, we have players who can do a lot of different things. We don?t fear anybody, we play the football and don?t worry about the opposition. The boys are really maturing and enjoy learning from the changes in formation we are trying out at the moment. We?ll get better as the season goes on.?
Fraser Park mentor Alex Augusto was disappointed with the loss and questioned why football had to be played on a cricket ground when Uni has world-class sporting facilities at its disposal. ?I don?t think it was a deserving result. I don?t like blaming the pitch, but the ball bounced all over the place in the middle of the park, and they obviously had more control than us because they knew how to play there. No excuses, we lost and we lost badly. I told the players that Uni would be a hard game because they are looking for points. We had our chances and well done to Uni.?
This week?s games
There are some terrific match-ups to mark round 10 of the NSW Super League with Bonnyrigg hosting Liverpool in a top of the table clash, Granville travelling to the Central Coast, and Fairfield welcoming Uni, all on Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon, Fraser Park tackle Parramatta in a top-five clash at home, St George visit Mount Druitt, while the Northern Tigers face a tough match at Rockdale.
Central Coast Lightning 1 (Brad Porter 65m) Mount Druitt Town Rangers 1 (Adam Roscoe 88m)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Giovanni Leuzzi 74m) Granville Rage 0
St George Saints 3 (David Wilson 33m Mitchell Fihlebon 45m Daniel Fallico 67m) Rockdale City Suns 3 (Peter Apolevski 49m David Nastoski 57m Goce Trposki 60m)
Sydney University 4 (James Alcorn 9/92m Aaron Kidd 20m Mike Karagianos 58m) Fraser Park Dragons 1 (Koji Sasaki 59m)
Northern Tigers 3 (Daniel Nash 15/75/85m) Fairfield City Lions 0
Bossy Liverpool 0 PCYC Parramatta Eagles 3 (Nathan Rivera 13m Andy Amegashie 62/79m)
Central Coast Lightning 2 Mount Druitt Town Rangers 2
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2 Granville Rage 0
St George Saints 2 Rockdale City Suns 0
Sydney University 1 Fraser Park Dragons 2
Northern Tigers 4 Fairfield City Lions 1
Bossy Liverpool 1 PCYC Parramatta Eagles 3
-By Daniel De Nardi