The Sydney Airport Jets staged another last-minute escape act in Saturday�s thrilling VB Premier League match against St.George-Illawarra at Henson Park. Two weeks ago the Jets beat Parramatta 22-16 with a converted try in the last minute of play and in an amazing coincidence, Newtown repeated that same 22-16 winning margin and the late converted try against the Dragons.
The Jets trailed 8-6 at half-time but had gone close to �getting the ball over the stripe� on at least four other occasions in the lively first half. The Dragons played with great enthusiasm and bustled and harassed the Jets� playmakers remorselessly. Newtown still trailed by 16-12 with less than five minutes left to play and literally won the game in the last two sets of possession of the match. Jets coach Colin Murphy said after the game that Newtown�s ability to finish games strongly was a tribute to his players� fitness levels, team spirit and competitiveness.
Front-rower James Stosic was outstanding in another strong, slogging performance from the whole Newtown forward pack. Stosic�s barnstorming first-half try brought the house down, and former Kangaroo tourist Brian �Chicka� Moore claimed it was one of the most explosive front-rower�s tries he had ever seen. Lafi Manua, Phillip Leuluai and Luke Harlan were the best of the other forwards and young Rhys Lovegrove deserves an honourable mention for his debut appearance with Newtown in Premier League football. Vince Mellars, Nathan Merritt (another try and three more goals), Beau Scott and Russell Aitken were the Jets� best backs, with Mellars and winger Frank Samia scoring Newtown�s vital two tries in those thrilling final minutes.
In the Jim Beam Cup competition, Newtown fielded a considerably changed line-up from the previous week�s impressive win over Erina. The Jets competed well in Sunday�s away game at Wentworthville but didn�t quite match the home team�s forward firepower. An ordinary ten minutes just prior to half-time allowed Wenty to go to the break with a 16-6 lead, and it was a margin the Jets couldn�t overhaul in the second half. Newtown eventually lost by 30-22 but scored some well-crafted tries in the second stanza. Newtown was best served by Tommy Gemmell, David Buckley, Chris Aho and Kiel Roberts in the forwards and by Danny Morris, Glenn Sedwell and Jardine Bobongie in the backline.
The Parkes Spacemen dealt out a 58-24 hammering to their arch-enemies Forbes in their traditional Queen�s Birthday weekend Group 11 local derby, played in front of another big Pioneer Oval crowd.
There�s another full day of Rugby League next Saturday (June 18th) at Henson Park. At 12 noon the in-form Newtown Jetettes take on the Redfern All Blacks in a Sydney Women�s Rugby League inner city local derby. At 1.15pm, Newtown is at home to The Entrance in the Jim Beam Cup, and in the main game at 3.00pm, the Sydney Airport Jets face another big assignment when they shape up to the Sydney Roosters in the VB Premier League�s match of the round.