The strategic Rugby League alliance between the Newtown and Cronulla-Sutherland clubs zoomed away to a flying start at Toyota Park on Saturday evening. The Sydney Airport Jets impressed the big Toyota Park crowd of nearly 20,000 with a commanding 30-10 win over the Penrith-St.Marys Cougars in the opening round of the VB Premier League competition.
This victory was built on the solid foundations of unyielding defence and conceding minimal penalties, but there is certainly plenty of room for improvement in this Newtown team. Newtown�s completion rate for the game was barely fifty per cent, and there were far too many turnovers of possession and wayward passes. The Jets� kicking game also needs some fine tuning to really trouble the top teams in this competition. The big Sydney Airport Jets pack methodically ground their opponents down and the team made good use of most of their opportunities at the Cougars� end of the ground.
Newtown�s best were Nathan Merritt (two tries), Paul Mellor and Beau Scott in the backs, while young Russell Aitken displayed some classy ball skills. David Thompson, Reece Williams (32 tackles), Phillip Leuluai, Jon Green and James Stosic were the best of a dominant Sydney Airport Jets forward pack.
Newtown coach Colin Murphy said the best was yet to come with this team, and he praised the seamless cooperation between the Newtown and Cronulla-Sutherland clubs that had assembled such a formidable and well-prepared squad.
The Jets turned on a disappointing performance in the final Jim Beam Cup trial played at Henson Park on Sunday. Newtown lost by 28-24 to the competition newcomers Belrose and made fundamental errors right across the park. The unseasonably warm conditions weren�t exactly ideal for Rugby League, and this team now has a week to regroup and prepare themselves for the opening competition round.
This week in the NSWRL VB Premier League, Newtown travels to Brookvale Oval on Sunday (March 20) to take on Manly-Warringah at the early starting time of 12.15pm. The Sydney Airport Jets meet Wentworthville in round one of the Jim Beam Cup at Henson Park on Saturday (March 19), with this match kicking off at 3.00pm.