An against the odds second half performance enabled the Newtown Jets to turn around a 10-nil halftime deficit into an 18-16 win against the Western Suburbs Magpies, in the NSW Cup match played at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Newtown's forwards showed the way in the second half fightback, prompting Jets coach Greg Matterson to describe the win as one of the team's best efforts for the season.
Wests had their old foes on the rack in the first half, as the Magpies enjoyed a huge surplus of possession and extended favourable field position. The Jets compounded their problems with dropped ball on the few occasions they were in an attacking situation, plus some fairly ordinary kicks at the end of some of their sets of possession. Newtown defended resolutely in the difficult circumstances but tired towards the end of the half, with Wests scoring in the 32nd and 38th minutes. Newtown's online defence was all the more commendable given the number of repeat sets gained by the Magpies. The second half prospects looked bleak for Newtown, going in 10-nil down at the break and having failed to take any advantage of the stiff breeze that had been in the Jets' favour in the first forty minutes.
The Jets responded well to the challenge in front of them, registering a much better completion rate in the second half. Backrower Tinirau Arona scored Newtown's first try in the tenth minute, following clever lead-in work from winger Chris Tuatara-Morrison and halfback Liam Foran. Lanky Jets five-eighth Johnathon Ford speared in between the Wests defenders to score in the 18th minute after the Jets had gained territory from a midfield penalty. Fullback Ben Jones, in his first appearance with the Jets since 2008, snapped up a Wests dropped ball and dashed 90 metres to score to give Newtown a 14-10 lead with fifteen minutes remaining. Second-rower Aidan Guerra applied the coup de grace late in the second half when he ran off a slick pass from Tinirau Arona, extending Newtown's lead to 18-10. The Magpies scored a runaway try in the game's final minute.
Jets prop Martin Kennedy led from the front in the second half resurgence, topping the stats in metres gained and figuring prominently in the tackle count as well. His fellow forwards Aidan Guerra, Tinirau Arona, Ray Moujalli and Khalid Deeb all made valuable ground in the second half, but Kennedy was deservedly the man of the match. Backrower Brad Barrett, lock and captain Jason Baitieri and hooker James Aubusson all turned in busy defensive efforts, especially in the first half when Wests had several opportunities to establish an unassailable lead. Halves Liam Foran and Johnathon Ford also gave strong defensive performances while the rest of the backs were solid. Winger Troy Savage fielded one soaring high kick into his corner while he was under great pressure and looking directly into the sun.
Newtown is back at Henson Park next Saturday (26th June) against the much-improved Central Coast Centurions, who have been reinforced with several Newcastle Knights NRL squad members. Saturday's 16th round NSW Cup fixture will be preceded by Cronulla-Sutherland taking on Western Suburbs at 1.00pm, with the Newtown-Central Coast match timed for kick-off at 3.00pm.
Tinirau Arona, Johnathon Ford, Ben Jones, Aidan Guerra tries;
Tu'u Maori goal
Western Suburbs 16:
Geoff Daniela, Kurt Kara, Nu Akeripa tries;
Jamie Sharkie 2 goals.
Half-Time: Western Suburbs led 10-0.