The Newtown Jets used up yet another "get out of jail card" when they defeated the competition cellar-dwellers Shellharbour Dragons 22-19 in the NSW Cup match played at the Ron Costello Oval on Sunday afternoon. Jets winger Troy Savage, who ironically had played with the Dragons in 2009, dashed 90 metres to score the match-winning try in the final minute of play.
The Jets looked to be on course for a runaway victory when they bolted to a 14-0 lead midway through the first half, on the back of tries to centre Tu'u Maori, fullback Luke Towers and their makeshift halfback Johnathon Ford, who was deputising for the injured Liam Foran. Newtown then proceeded to go into hibernation and allowed the Dragons to score three converted tries and take an 18-14 lead, but the Jets rallied to draw level at 18-all through a try to winger Richard Kambo right on halftime.
The second half was certainly a willing affair but one with very few points on offer. The Jets were denied a try when they were held up over the line, and an upset result looked to be on the cards when Shellharbour centre Bronx Goodwin kicked a field goal to give the Dragons a 19-18 lead with four minutes left to play. The Jets reached into their well-thumbed desperation playbook and created room for Troy Savage, who used all of his considerable strength and determination to score a remarkable match-saving try.
Newtown's coach Greg Matterson pointed to the Jets' run of penalties, their dropped ball and poor execution that invited the Dragons back into the game after his team had made such a strong start. Once the Dragons were back in the contest and with the raucous support of their home crowd, they made the second half a real battle.
Centre Tu'u Maori was judged as Newtown's man of the match, and he has surely caught the attention of Papua-New Guinea selectors as they prepare to name their squad for the 2010 Four Nations tournament. There were plenty of hard workers in the Jets pack, including front-rowers Lopini Paea and Martin Kennedy. Standing at a lofty 195 cm, Newtown's stop-gap halfback Johnathon Ford may well have set a record as being the tallest-ever number seven in the entire history of the Rugby League game!
This Jets-Dragons match will be shown on Fox Sports 2 on Wednesday afternoon (28th July) at 5.00pm. Newtown's next NSW Cup match is against the North Sydney Bears at North Sydney Oval on Friday, 30th July, with this 21st round NSW Cup match timed to start at 7.00pm.
Newtown Jets 22:
Newtown Jets 22:
Tu'u Maori, Luke Towers, Johnathon Ford, Richard Kambo, Troy Savage tries;
Tu'u Maori 1 goal
Shellharbour Dragons 19:
Ian Catania 2, Michael Lett tries;
Bronx Goodwin 3 goals, 1 field goal.