The Newtown Jets made hard work of their 38-34 win against the Central Coast Centurions in the NSW Cup 16th round match played at Henson Park on Saturday. Newtown led 10-0 midway through the first half but fell behind 18-10 by halftime, and looked to be in real trouble when they trailed by 24-10 early in the second half.
Jets centre Tu'u Maori scored in the third minute of play and second-rower Aidan Guerra crossed in the 20th minute, with another try having been butchered in between those two. Newtown's play fell away badly in the game's second quarter as the error tally mounted and the Centurions came back into the game, just as they had in their 9th round boilover win at Wyong.
Newtown pulled the game out of the fire in the second half but not with the confidence and style usually associated with one of the competition's front-running teams. The Jets fought back to lead 28-24 and 34-28, but only claimed the winning try two minutes from fulltime. The Jets' second half completion rate of 87% was a big improvement on the first half's 61%, but there needs to be more all-round consistency and tighter discipline for next Sunday's showcase encounter with the Balmain Tigers.
Jets coach Greg Matterson frankly acknowledged that his team had made too many errors and "had pushed the envelope too hard from the inside". There had been some good individual efforts and line-breaks in scoring the tries that eventually won the game, but the discipline and tight defence from the previous week against Wests was missing. Matterson observed that the Centurions, the Newcastle Knights reserve team, were a young, fast side who played an adventurous brand of football that Newtown found difficult to cope with.
Centre Tu'u Maori was judged as Newtown's player of the match while forwards Brad Barrett, Tinirau Arona, Khalid Deeb and Jason Wells all worked hard in defence and took the contest right up to the Centurions forwards. Backrower Jason Baitieri gave a game performance while carrying an injury, and halfback Liam Foran pulled off an amazing try-saving tackle when he held up a Centurions player over the line in the first half. Roosters regular and Tongan international Lopini Paea, in his first appearance with Newtown since the 2006 Grand Final, made a splendid midfield break to set up fullback Luke Towers for a crucial second half try.
Next Sunday at Henson Park (4th July) will be one of the blockbuster fixtures of the 2010 NSW Cup season. Newtown takes on competition leaders the Balmain Tigers and should the Jets win, they will leap-frog both Balmain and Canterbury-Bankstown to become the outright competition leaders after 17 rounds. This will be a great day for Jets fans to turn up in huge numbers for what should be an inner-city local derby classic. The match gets underway at the customary 3.00pm.
Newtown Jets 38
Newtown Jets 38
Tu'u Maori 2, Chris Tuatara-Morrison 2, Aidan Guerra, Luke Towers, Russell Aitken tries;
Tu'u Maori 5 goals
Central Coast Centurions 34:
George Ndaira 5 goals.
Half-Time: Central Coast led 18-10.