Guildford kept their finals hopes alive with a flowing 42-34 victory over Western Suburbs at McCredie Park.
The Owls opened the scoring in the sixth minute through winger Halaufua Lavaka, who showed considerable strength to touch down despite plenty of black and white attention. Peter Irwin added the extras to put Guildford ahead 6-0.
Thanks to handling errors and penalties, neither side could find much rhythm, one of the penalties awarded to Wests for a late lifting tackle, however the Magpies’ Adrian Ha’angana was dispatched for ten minutes for retaliation.
Wests scored what is starting to become their customary sevens style try after 24 minutes, when a bomb from Nathan Waters was marked by Amanono Tovio, the ball finding its way through four sets of hands before Dayne Craig grubbered in behind the line, Seffa Silafau steaming onto the ball to touch down. Michael Craig sliced the kick, Guildford still up by two.
Two minutes later the Magpies reclaimed the lead as Adrian Ha’angana atoned for his stint in the sheds, following through to back up Dayne Craig after a wonderful offload from Sonny Bristow. Michael Craig again pushed the kick wide, Wests leading 8-6 after 27 minutes.
Guildford retaliated by almost blowing the game out of the water with three tries in the last ten minutes before oranges to Nathan Davis, Luke Fahey and Asipeli Lavaka. Peter Irwin added two conversions and, after trailing by two with ten minutes to halftime, Guildford went in ahead 22-8.
Despite Soni Paasi bulldozing his way through the Guildford line on a 50 metre break to start the second half, it was the Owls who opened the scoring, with Nathan Davis picking off a long pass from Wests to race 80 metres to touch down under the posts. Peter Irwin added the extras and Guildford were up by 20 just four minutes into the second stanza.
Wests needed to find the line quickly and did so with Soni Paasi, who drifted across the field before singling out the smaller Guildford defence to push his way over the line. David Atuau was unable to add the extras, Guildford ahead 28-12.
From the kick-off, Wests marched downfield with Sam Aiga breaking through the line, a grubber from Aiga being grounded by Nathan Waters for four points. Michael Stevens potted the goal and Wests were suddenly back to within ten points with half an hour to play.
Wests were in again five minutes later as Sonny Bristow showed some deft footwork to touch down. Stevens was on target, Guildford holding a slender 28-24 lead.
A penalty to Guildford for a late challenge swung the momentum in their favour and Dylan McKeown took full advantage to score on the right side. Peter Irwin pulled the kick wide, the Owls leading 34-24 going into the final quarter.
Nathan Davis registered his hat –trick three minutes later, putting on two left foot steps after a long backline movement. Peter Irwin was off target again, Guildford restoring their 14 point buffer.
Wests found their most successful play was to terrorise the Guildford defence by sending Soni Paasi forward as often as possible, and Paasi notched his second try through a simple straight run as first receiver. Stevens added the extras and Wests hit 30, still eight in arrears.
Wests had plenty of opportunities to add to their tally but Guildford’s defence held firm and, with Wests’ focus understandably more on regaining possession than completing the tackle, Nathan Davis crossed for his fourth of the afternoon. Peter Irwin failed to convert, although the game was out of the reach of Wests at 42-30 with three minutes remaining.
The Magpies, though, would have the final say with Dayne Craig burrowing over from dummy half, Atuau unable to convert, leaving a final score of 42-34.
Guildford dominated through big performances from Nathan Davis, Mark Daoud and Chris Saab, while for Wests, Soni Paasi was incredibly damaging with ball in hand, as was Nathan Waters, with Amanono Tovio shouldering a big workload.
Guildford face a tough challenge against Mounties next weekend at Mt Pritchard, while Wests will be desperate to sew up their position in the finals when Wentworthville travel to Campbelltown.
GUILDFORD 42 (Nathan Davis 4, Halaufua Lavaka, Luke Fahey, Asipeli Lavaka, Dylan McKeown tries; Peter Irwin 5 from 8) def WESTERN SUBURBS 34 (Soni Paasi 2, Seffa Silafau, Adrian Ha’angana, Nathan Waters, Sonny Bristow, Dayne Craig tries; Michael Stevens 3 from 5, David Atuau 0 from 2)
Penalties: Wests 6 Guildford 8
Halftime: Wests 8 Guildford 22
1. Sam Aiga
3. Fusi Toutai
19. Michael Mate
16. Jerome Mose
5. Amanono Tovio
6. Michael Stevens
7. Nathan Waters
10. Sonny Bristow
9. Dayne Craig
8. Dean Rysko
15. Seffa Silafau
12. Tom Morrison
20. Adrian Ha’angana
13. David Atuau
14. Todd Makejev
18. Fred Tevaga
22. Soni Paasi
1. Asipeli Lavaka
2. Halaufua Lavaka
3. Nathan Davis
4. Peter Irwin
5. Richard Williams
6. Jadon Vidal
7. Mark Daoud
8. Charlie Farah
9. Luke Fahey
10. Casey Ellis
11. Dylan Mckeown
12. Chris Saab
13. Tepai Tepu Smith
14. Suliasi Suli
15. Jarrod Azar
16. Michael Luong
17. Willam Siali