Mustangs claim U18 title over Souths
The Western Mustangs produced a stirring second half to claim this year's Mal Meninga Cup Under 18 final over the Souths Logan Magpies.
Both teams did their bit to ensure that the representative football Sunday at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park opened with a brilliant game of rugby league.
A bumper crowd of vocal supporters were treated to a fantastic display of rugby league with both teams showing maturity, skills and a fantastic attitude as the Mustangs snatched a breathtaking 40-30 victory.
Down 30-16 early in the second half; any team could be forgiven for dropping their heads, however the boys from the west turned their fortunes around and scored 24 unanswered points to put them on their way to a win.
Both teams opened the game with well-organised, controlled sets and it was immediately clear that these two big, skilful packs were well-matched.
The Mustangs showed from the start how they would play the game and their first try came when lock Luke Maiden combined with five-eighth and player of the match Trav Turnbull who found space and linked with fullback Denzel Burns.
Burns is blessed with that rare and precious combination of speed and timing and combined with his understanding with Turnbull; it made him unstoppable as he scored the first of his three tries.
Skipper Cory Paix landed the first of what would be six conversions on the day to give his side the early lead.
Souths Logan prop Saeed Annewetey ensured that would not last long though when he took a pass at first receiver and crashed over the line. Halfback Tanah Boyd landed the first of five conversions to level the scores up.
The teams then traded tries with Mustangs centre Alex Dunemann and Magpies five-eighth Dray Ngatuere-Wroe both scoring to take the score to 12-10.
The Mustangs were moving the big Souths pack around with plenty of ball movement and hard running and were achieving some dominance.
However, they were their own worst enemy, and each side halftime they were penalised in their own half and the Magpies took full advantage.
After the first penalty, fullback Thane Kellemeyer scored under the black dot following great lead up work from Josiah Taofinuu. Boyd converted and his side went to the break leading 18-16.
The Magpies scored through little men Sam Tolu and Blake Scott and with Boyd continuing with his perfect goal kicking they had skipped out to a 30-16 lead with 10 minutes gone in the first half.
This is a very talented Mustangs side though, along with try scorer Burns, winger Christopher Burns and the halves Paix and Turnbull are talented and skilful.
The four of them – along with prop Jordan Crocker came to the fore as the team scored four unanswered tries from the 44th to 68th minutes to Paix, James Robinson, Burns (his third) and centre Brock Diment – to seal the comeback win.
While disappointed, the Magpies can still be proud of their season where they finished on top of the ladder and played well in the finals - only to come up against a team that was better on the day.
Next weekend, the Mustangs will travel to Belmore to take on Parramatta in the National Under 18 final.
WESTERN MUSTANGS 40 (Denzel Burns 3, Alexander Dunemann, Cory Paix, James Robinson, Brock Diment tries; Cory Paix 6 goals) at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park def SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES 30 (Saeed Annewetey, Dray Ngatuere-Wroe, Thane Kellermeyer, Blake Scott, Sam Tolu tries; Tanah Boyd 5 goals)
Halftime: Souths Logan 18-16
Man of the Match: Travis Turnbull (Western Mustangs)
Next Week: Saturday, May 13
Parramatta Eels v Western Mustangs at Belmore Oval 11am