In what was one of the Newtown club's most satisfying victories since joining the NSWRL First Division competition, the Jets defeated Canberra 30-28 in an absolute thriller at Henson Park last Saturday afternoon. This result was a colossal turnaround from the 54-0 mauling that the Raiders dished out to the Jets in the opening competition round back in early April.
Despite a most unpromising start, with the Raiders scoring in the game's opening minutes, the Jets quickly rallied and showed they had really turned up to play. Hard running centre Dave Lambert scored Newtown's first try, with five-eighth Troy Barnes slotting over the first of his haul of seven goals for the afternoon. Canberra added tries at the twenty and thirty minute marks, but a try to Jets half Brad Westaway and a further conversion and two penalty goals to Barnes saw Newtown go to the break leading 16-14.
The Raiders punished Newtown for a mix-up from the second half kick-off, scoring from the next set of possession to lead 18-16. The Jets replied five minutes later with a superbly worked try to second rower Luke Wardle, following precision approach play through Chris Williams, Steve Skinnon, Tere Glassie, Tarei McKenzie and Garth Wood. Another penalty goal from Barnes midway through the second half put Newtown further ahead by 24-18. The Raiders locked the scores up at 24-all with a converted try twelve minutes from full time.
In a frenzied last five minutes, Barnes was again on target with a long-range penalty goal to edge Newtown ahead. Then a touch judge's ruling back upfield denied Alf Duncan what would have been a sensational match sealing try for the Jets. All seemed lost with two minutes left, when the Raiders worked play downfield to score and post what seemed likely to be the final score of 28-26. In an incredible finale, the Jets regained possession in the dying seconds from a somewhat ordinary Raiders clearing kick. An inspired Alf Duncan jinked and weaved his way past frantic Canberra defenders, before sending Brad Westaway clear for the line to grab an improbable and truly memorable Newtown victory.
Due credit must be given to Jets coach Colin Murphy for his ability to weld together a scratch squad into such a competitive playing unit in less than half a season. Newtown's best on a day that will be long remembered were Garth Wood, Alf Duncan, Dave Lambert, Brad Westaway, Troy Barnes, Luke Wardle, Tere Glassie and Steve Skinnon.
Newtown's Metro Cup team made it a joyous double for the Jets, when they won their first match of the season in toppling Kellyville by 28-26. Darryl Neville's lads were away to a wobbly start, trailing 12-0 early in the match. Newtown's greater enthusiasm and pace out wide prevailed in the end, enabling the young Jets to break through for a well deserved win. Frank Samia and Mark Fakahua were the best in the backs, while all the Jets forwards took on and neutralised the Bushrangers pack.
Newtown play again at Henson Park this Saturday (June 15). In the Metropolitan Cup, Newtown meet Ryde-Eastwood at 1.15 p.m., and in the First Division, the Jets take on the front-running Bulldogs at 3.00 p.m.