Super League Round 14 Review


Teams jostle for positions in round 14 of NSW Super League
Four 3-2 results and a couple of 2-0 wins showed how close it was round 14 of the 2008 NSW Super League. Bonnyrigg (30 points) and Parramatta (27) still lead the competition ahead of their much-anticipated clash at Bonnryigg this weekend. Liverpool (22), Fraser Park (21) and Granville (21) round out the top-five, but they have a string of stalkers following them in St George (19), Northern (16), Mount Druitt (15), Rockdale (15) and Central Coast (14) ? all of whom are still well in the mix for a finals berth with catch-up matches in hand.
Liverpool boss St George
Bossy Liverpool and St George Saints continued their close rivalry at Belmore Sportsground on Saturday night. When the smoke finally cleared, Liverpool had clung on to a heroic 3-2 victory, shooting them back into third spot behind Bonnyrigg and Parramatta. It was a terrific game for spectators, who endured a rollercoaster ride of emotions as soon as Bossy stamped their foot on the occasion early in the match.
A defence-splitting pass to Sam Mort allowed the Bossy player to rifle in a shot from the left past a good try from Saints goalkeeper Trinity Allen to give Liverpool the lead. St George battled hard to restore the balance with David Wilson smashing a direct free kick against the cross bar from outside the penalty area before Kurt Crnic equalised on the half-hour mark. Crnic cleaned up the pieces from close range after Nick Polimenakos had beaten Bossy keeper Joe Mamou to the ball, his looping header just failing to clear the bar.
Polimenakos had a great chance to put the Saints ahead just before halftime, following up a good run from Matt Demetriou, but his header fell into Mamou?s hands. St George went on the attack in the second half but a double from Liverpool midfielder Sam Awad pushed the visitors noses back in front. Awad slotted home an Allen parry in the 68th minute to restore Bossy?s lead, and he extended their advantage with an accurate header three minutes later for a 3-1 scoreline.
Liverpool might have been caught out celebrating too early as they conceded minutes after the restart, Saints defender Daniel Fallico crossing from the right for Crnic to notch up his second goal of the game with an easy header. At 3-2 down, St George pressed hard for an equaliser, Polimenakos coming close when he shot narrowly wide with 15 minutes to go. As fulltime loomed, Saints fullback Simon Verrender and Bossy stopper Mirza Sehic became embroiled in a midfield altercation, the referee sending both players from field before blowing the final whistle.
St George mentor John Calleja conceded Liverpool might have deserved the win, but he was less than impressed with the attitude of his players heading into the top-five bout. ?It was an entertaining type of game, and I think the more hungrier team won ? Bossy seemed to want it a little bit more, while we were a bit flat. Our passing wasn?t as good as it normally is, which was disappointing as I thought we had a lot to play for.?
?The boys were also disappointed, especially as they usually seem to life when we play at Belmore. But we aim to learn from every game, and I think the lesson here is that we need to turn up ready to play at every game, no matter who the opposition is. This is important because, from here until the finals, it will be all about consistency.?
Suns eclipse Fairfield
Rockdale City Suns learnt plenty from their 3-2 epic win over bottom-of-the-table Fairfield City Lions at Norford Park on Saturday night. An inexperienced Rockdale side almost blew a 3-0 lead in the final 15 minutes of the match, but they sure gave football fans a run for their money, putting together some enterprising play throughout the match. Fairfield City, too, broke free from their early submission to storm home and almost steal something from the game. The Lions ? in last position, three points behind Sydney Uni ? are yet to beat the Suns in five Super League tries.
Goals to Terry Atsas, on 17 minutes, and Goce Trtoski, on 25 minutes, gifted Rockdale a 2-0 lead at halftime. A second to Trtoski minutes into the second term extended the margin to 3-0 before Taner Omac gave Fairfield a glimmer of hope with a 73rd minute goal cutting into the deficit. Nabil Codmani chalked up another one for the Lions on 82 minutes to slice the margin to 3-2 and the home side tried in vain to find an equaliser. Codmani?s third goal of the season makes him Fairfield City?s leading goalscorer.
Suns coach Michael Grbevski had mixed feelings about the result ? glad to win but unhappy with the late concessions. ?At 3-0 up with 15 to go, I was actually enjoying myself for the first time in a while, and then they [the players] almost gave me a heart attack. That?s what happens when you push up looking for goals, you leave yourself open to the counter attack. That?s the inexperience showing in a young team. But we won?t get anywhere unless we learn from our mistakes. It was even a good learning experience for myself as I have found the league much tougher than I expected. We could have scored five or six more against the bottom team and it ended up being a nailbiter.?
With just one win in 13 games, Lions coach Aydin Cetinay has wiped a possible finals spot from his scope is now fully focused on survival. ?It?s our defence. I?ve had this problem all season where we start games poorly and cop cheap goals. We just can?t afford to keep giving other teams a head start. Our comeback was good, but at the end of the day we lost still. We won?t make the semis, to be realistic, so our aim now is to stay in the league. I think with a few back-to-back wins we will get there.?
PCYC Parramatta edge out Granville
PCYC Parramatta Eagles finally broke their Super League drought against neighbours Granville Rage with a pulsating 2-0 win at Melita Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It was Parramatta’s first win over Granville and they stayed within sight of competition leaders Bonnyrigg as a result. For Granville, they undid plenty of the good work from their 2-0 midweek win over Fairfield to sit just outside the top-five on goal difference.
The Rage came out firing in the first half with Nenos Bobo hotfooting his way around and through the Eagles defence, and earning a penalty inside the first 10 minutes of the match. But Phil Pyliotis wasn?t up to the task and gave Parramatta goalkeeper Stacey Alogdellis plenty of room to make a fine save. A 0-0 halftime scoreline reflected a tight affair, so it was unfortunate that Granville conceded a soft goal to Eagles striker Mario Ghobrial minutes after the restart, with the Eagles stealing a 2-0 victory with a Nathan Rivera goal 10 minutes from fulltime.
Parramatta coach Jason Falzon was delighted with the result. ?I?m very pleased. The boys worked hard in what was a top match between two top five sides really going at each other. It was always going to be pretty close. Once they missed the penalty, we just got on with the game. I thought we had a lot of control and were patient, and we were rewarded for all our hard work. It sets up a very good clash this weekend against Bonnryigg. I think we needed this sort of game to get our concentration up.?
His Granville opposite was not as happy. ?We took a tablet, to be honest. It was a really even clash, and I think the end scoreline was flattering to Parramatta,? Lee Sterrey said. ?We were all over them early on, and there was nothing in the game at halftime. We didn?t use the ball as well as I would?ve liked, and the players just weren?t desperate enough to get onto the end of a few crosses. It was a shame as it was a very important game, one which might have cemented a top-five spot. The good thing is we can see we?re not that far off the pace of the top sides.?
Lightning strike Tigers
Central Coast Lightning held off a late Northern Tigers surge to win 3-2 at Mills Park on Sunday afternoon and create a mid-table traffic jam. The game produced five second-half goals to make it a real hoot for the crowd, but the loss has Tigers coach Hugh McCrory urging his players to find their once-feared form. Central Coast, with a couple of games in hand, have the means to launch an all-out attack on the top-five.
The Lightning scored twice quickly on the hour mark ? through Xavier Forsberg and Brady Smith ? before Kevin Garcia pulled one back for the home side. Central Coast pushed ahead 3-1 with a Luke Walker goal eight minutes from fulltime only to see Northern cut their lead again through a Daniel Nash strike to make for an exciting conclusion. But chances to Tigers forwards Tim Gledhill and Michael Dowling went begging and the Lightning held on for the win and keep their finals hopes alive.
?It?s not looking good,? Tigers coach Hugh McCrory lamented. Central Coast pressured everything and we were ordinary. If we don?t turn it around soon, we won?t make the five. We just didn?t compete today. After our good efforts against Bonnyrigg, there just wasn?t the same commitment. The players will have to address it because it?s just not good enough for what we expect at the Tigers. Marcus frost was only player who really got stuck into it and he showed what the Tigers are all about. If we leave it any longer, we?ll be lucky to finish in the top 10.?
Dragons slay Rangers
Two goals from Japanese sensation Koji Sasaki catapulted Fraser Park Dragons to a 2-0 win over Mount Druitt Town Rangers at Fraser Park on Sunday afternoon. With the scores locked at 0-0 at halftime, Sasaki showed off his style five minutes into the second term when he headed home a Greg Collins cross to establish a 1-0 Dragons lead. The win was sealed 10 minutes from fulltime when Sasaki finished off his own break with a great strike into goal.
The win shifted the Dragons into a fourth place and coach Alex Augusto was delighted. ?It was a tough game,? he said.
“Mt Druitt had a couple of chances but couldn?t finish them off, and we did play well. I?m very happy with everything the players showed me. They wanted to win three points and we got the good result. After going up and down for many weeks, the players are now doing fantastic, which is why we have collected seven points from the past three games.?
Bonnyrigg bowl over Uni
Competition frontrunners Bonnyrigg White Eagles trudged off Sydney Uni Oval after beating the home side 3-2 on Sunday afternoon. They were happy to claim three points but happier that no one picked up an injury. Bonnyrigg coach Blagoja Kulevski was seething on the inside and spoke with a measured temperament about the state of the pitch.
?It was a very scrappy game and there is nothing special to say except that we get the three points. But we really can?t do anything better than that on that cricket pitch. The ground is terrible and I?m so happy that no player got injured ahead of what could be the game of the year against Parramatta next week. This will be a big game. If we win, we can see the top of the mountain.?
Uni had just lost the services of coach Bruce Tilt but played out of their skin to match it with Bonnyrigg early in the game. A brace of goals to Tony Faria (recruited from Fraser Park) saw the White Eagles jump to a 2-0 lead on 50-minutes. Uni scored with 10 minutes to go but newly signed Leo Carle restored Bonnyrigg?s edge with five minutes to. An injury-time goal to Uni?s rising star Steve Gaudioso made a comprehensive loss flattering on the scoreline.
Round 15 games
Round 15 of the NSW Super League offer up some Saturday night tantalising fixtures with top-two sides Bonnyrigg and Parramatta going head-to-head at Bonnyrigg Sports Club, while equal-fourth placed Fraser Park and Granville meeting at Garside Park. Also on Saturday night, top-five chasers Northern Tigers and St George clash at Belmore Sportsground, and Central Coast welcome Sydney Uni to Pluim Park.
On Sunday afternoon, third-place Liverpool host Rockdale at Moorebank, while Fairfied City travel to Popondetta Park to take on Mt  Druitt Town.
-By Daniel De Nardi