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The Newtown Jets suffered their second defeat at Henson Park this season when they were emphatically beaten by the St George-Illawarra Dragons 44-18 at Henson Park last Saturday. The Dragons had this final round VB Premier League match in the bag when they led 28-6 at half-time, but they had to see off a spirited fight-back by the Jets when Newtown battled back to trail 28-18 midway through the second half.
Newtown had gone into this match with a somewhat under-strength side with a number of players playing out of position. The Jets? lack of cohesion and understanding was caught out in the seven minutes prior to half-time when the speedy Dragons stacked on three tries. Newtown remained in second position on the competition table regardless of the result and will now appear in the VB Premier League first qualifying final this Friday evening at Henson Park.
The Jets? forwards lost nothing in comparison with their opponents and proved what a force they can be in the finals series. Front-rowers Glenn Hall (2 tries) and Mickey Paea never stopped trying and Lafi Manua had one of his better games in recent weeks. Backrowers Lopini Paea and Frank Winterstein also worked hard in attack. The makeshift halves pairing of Aidan Kirk (normally at full-back) and Troy Malcolm (usually a winger) did their best in tough circumstances and centre Vince Mellars showed plenty of admirable aggression and fire in one of his better displays of the season.
The Royal Exchange Hotel Newtown Jets won their opening Jim Beam Cup finals match in convincing style when they swept aside last year?s premiers Windsor in the elimination semi-final played at OKI Jubilee Stadium last Saturday. Newtown won by 43-18 after leading 13-4 at the break and turned one of their best performances in this grade in the past two seasons.
Coach Greg Matterson rated this win as an excellent team effort, with only a slight lapse in the last five minutes when Windsor scored two consolation tries. All the Newtown forwards worked particularly hard in the very warm conditions, while Toufic Nicolas, Luke Millwood, Charlie Herekotukutuku and Anton La Vin had outstanding games in the backline. Matterson believes his team is more than capable of stepping up another notch for next week?s second elimination semi-final to be played at Leichhardt Oval. Royal Exchange Hotel Jets supporters can watch the highlights of last Saturday?s elimination semi-final win on Fox Sports 1 this Thursday at 5.00pm.
Newtown will host the Penrith-St Marys Cougars in the VB Premier League qualifying semi-final at Henson Park next Friday night (September 8th) at 7.30pm. This is understood to be the first time that the Newtown club has ever hosted a NSW Rugby League senior grade semi-final at Henson Park. In the Jim Beam Cup competition, the Royal Exchange Hotel Newtown Jets confront Wentworthville in the second elimination semi-final at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday, 9th September at 1.00pm.
Hard-working Newtown Jets front-rower Glenn Hall is wrapped up by several Dragons defenders at Henson Park on Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Gary Sutherland Photography.