It wasn't the prettiest performance, but the Magpie's win over Balmain last night at Leichhardt was built on good old fashioned ticker.
The round six clash between the two joint venture partners was postponed due to the week of downpours Sydney endured a few weeks ago, but when a torential downpour hit the city late in the afternoon it looked certain that this game wouldn't avoid a wet track. Thankfully the storm passed quickly and a clear June night brought memories of Wednesday nights past and Cup matches under the lights of Leichhardt flooding back.
The Magpies began strongly and thanks to the obligatory early penalty were attacking within the first few minutes. A dart from dummy half Brad Eisenhuth had the Tigers defence back peddling and half Chris Levy found a hole to score under the sticks. Balmain were next to enjoy the referee's favours and from the good position gained were able to bomb the Wests in-goal. The resultant fumble produced a try for the home side and the Tigers had hit back to trail 6-4 before the players had even warmed up.
Apart from two well constructed tries to Jordan Macey and Leo Clarke, the rest of the half was mainly a case of the Magpies defending grimly and coughing up the ball too easily in the greasy conditions. Balmain's superior kicking game had Wests pinned down for large parts of the half. To their credit the Magpies refused to yield and repelled everything the Black and Golds could throw at them. The boys left the field at half time with their heads high, having secured an 18-6 lead as well as starting to gain some dominance in general play and field position whilst the Tigers were a man down with a player in the sin bin.
The second half was to produce an even sterner test of the Magpies resolve in defence. The Magpies barely reached the Balmain 20 for the entire half, whilst the home side launched raid after raid against the vistors. Apart from a try on the back of a glut of possession early in the half, the gallant Magpies refused to let Balmain get any closer than the final eight-point margin. Wests combined bruising front on tackling with frantic scrambling defence to defuse every threat. To add even greater credit to the victory West spend almost the entire last twenty minutes with only 12 players as the result of two sin-binnings.
Best for the Magpies was Jordan Macey who won the players player award. He was well supported by tireless forwards John Olzard, Wes Hallam-Mann, and Clint Hill, along with winger Leo Clarke and every one of the players who tackled themselves to a stand still.
Western Suburbs 18 d Balmain 10 Tries: Levy, Macey, Clarke Goals: Clark 3/5Like