A double from giant Westfields Sports High School prop Solomona Laulu was enough for the western Sydney school to claim a 12-10 victory over Illawarra Sports High in the GIO Schoolboys Cup at New Era Stadium in Cabramatta on Wednesday.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs SG Ball Cup representative, who also earnt man of the match honours, scored his school’s opening try before the half-time break which cancelled out Illawarra’s first try in the sixth minute through winger Cheyne Pike.
With Westfields holding a two point lead going into the break, both teams came out with an increased intensity and the game became more free flowing as first half errors were eradicated.
Illawarra five-eighth Drew Hutchison tried his best to get his school back in front, kicking a 40/20 to open the second half but strong Westfields defence in the following set of six held their opponents out.
With the match going from end to end the next try was going to be crucial and it came through Laulu who showed his strength to crash his way over eleven minutes from full-time.
The prop forward showed great footwork before the line to go past three defenders and dive in next to the uprights, with Brendan Cox’s conversion giving Westfields what seemed to be an unassailable eight point lead with less than ten minutes to play.
However, Dee-jay Harris hit back for Illawarra only a minute later through a crisp, 20metre long cut-out pass from five-eighth Drew Hutchison to cut the margin back to two points.
Westfields thought they had hung on for the win when a kick through from Jake Davison of Illawarra Sports High was knocked on by Cheyne Pike as the siren sounded, but referee Jeff Hartup awarded a penalty to Illawarra for a player being tackled without the ball.\
Centre Dee-jay Harris elected to take the shot at goal from 40 metres out on the touchline to earn a draw for his school, but his attempt went agonisingly wide of the right upright, with Westfields hanging on to claim the opening win of the 2012 competition.
Westfields will play Erindale in their next pool match, while Illawarra will meet Holy Cross as they look to earn their first victory of the competition.
Westfields Sports High School 12 (Solomona Laulu 2 tries; Brendan Cox 2/2 goals) defeated
Illawarra Sports High School 10 (Cheyne Pike, Dee-jay Harris tries; Dee-jay Harris 1/3 goals).