West Harbour has maintained their grasp on a potential Shute Shield Finals birth, with an expansive bonus-point victory over the winless Two Blues.
In a fixture which consistently prioritises free-flowing offence, the two sides delivered with exciting attacking play, as the ball was regularly shifted from edge to edge in search of points.
The 46-22 win sees the Pirates jump above Manly and into ninth on the Charter Hall Shute Shield ladder.
Mark Gudmunson’s side will be hoping that a twenty-one-day break between games doesn’t nullify the momentum drawn from their Two Blues clash. However, with favourable fixtures in their next few rounds, a Pirates charge towards the top six is now entirely conceivable.
The Two Blues chances were hampered early, losing in-form fullback Conor McEldowney and Waratah Tepai Moeroa prior to kick off.
In blustery conditions at Camden Rugby Park, it was the boot of Kodie Drury-Hawkins which saw the Pirates land an early 6-0 lead in the opening stages.
Drury-Hawkins exploited the extreme wind advantage well in the early part, ensuring most of the play was seen well into the Two Blues half of the field.
Despite all the early momentum in favour of the Pirates, it was the home side which secured the opening try of the day. With the Two Blues attack streaming forward, an intuitive cross field kick from scrumhalf Sam Babb found the Pirates defence scrambling, with winger Mosese Tavola diving on the loose ball to score the first try.
With both sides looking to throw the ball around early, momentum and possession shifted intermittently from team to team.
Eventually, the Pirates capitalised on their early match possession, with flanker Kaliova Nacina scooping the loose ball from a dominant West Harbour scrum to restore the visitors six-point lead.
The Pirates continued to dominate possession over the next period, with scrumhalf Dimitry Chipizubov looking dangerous as he sought to dart around some questionable Two Blues ruck defence.
A try to Justin Marsters and an early brace for Nacina saw the West Harbour lead extend to 25-5 at half time.
Neither side looked to restore their defence during the break, with the ball being thrown around openly again in search of points.
Slowly, the Two Blues were able to wrestle back some momentum, with a try to Solo Vosaicake just reward for their sustained attacking pressure.
Unfortunately for the home side, the Pirates hit back instantaneously with a genuine contender for try of the season, thanks to some dazzling footwork from Faiva Faiva and equally alluring offloading, with lock Jordan Sharp the beneficiary under the posts.
With the Two Blues desperately searching for their first win of the 2021 season, the home side ramped up the attacking pressure once more.
A quick double to First Grade debutant, Norwin Latu, culled the deficit to ten-points and kept the Two Blues hopes alive.
However, a reckless yellow card to breakaway Tevita Vea squashed the Two Blues resurgence, with the Pirates intelligently exposing the outnumbered opposition scrum to run in two more tries before full time.
The loss sees the Two Blues winless streak extend to seven matches. With the Western Sydney side set to face the Wildfires in Round Nine, next week’s road trip to Newcastle is shaping up to be all important for Joel Rivers and his men.
For West Harbour, they begin a fixture-less stretch which extends until the 19th June, with their bye round preceding an unfortunately timed long weekend. With important matches against Easts, Penrith and Souths following their break, the next stretch is to be defining in the Pirates shot at Shute Shield Finals in 2021.
In other results around the grounds, Gordon just edged out the Rats 24-20, Easts accounted for Penrith 35-17, Randwick slumped Souths to another agonising loss 29-25, Norths remain undefeated with a 36-18 win over Manly and Eastwood prevailed in a try-fest at T G Millner 66-33.
Two Blues 22
Tries: Latu 2, Tavola, Vosaicake
Yellow Cards: Ikanidrodro, Vea
West Harbour 46
Tries: Nacina 2, Marsters, Sharp, Faiva, Penalty Try
Cons: Drury-Hawkins 4
Pens: Drury-Hawkins 2
Round Eight Results
Gordon 24 v 20 Warringah
Penrith 17 v 35 Easts
Randwick 29 v 25 Souths
Manly 18 v 36 Norths
Eastwood 66 v 33 Wildfires
Two Blues 22 v 46 West Harbour
Bye: Sydney University