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The Newtown Jets first ever overseas competition match was a success on and off the field, with a 38-18 win over the Premier League newcomers the Auckland Lions plus a great reception at the lush Mt. Smart Stadium. Newtown led 16-0 at halftime but had to work hard for their eventual 38-18 victory.
The Jets' contingent of players with extensive NRL experience made all the difference in this match, with the Lions having made an impressive entry to the Premier League with a comprehensive win over Parramatta last Sunday. Newtown had to withstand a strong fightback by the Lions immediately after halftime and only confirmed this win with two converted tries late in the second half.
High performance Sydney Roosters player Amos Roberts was Newtown's best player and he combined well with the Jets halves Jamie Soward and Josh Lewis. Roberts scored two first half tries and added a third try after the Lions had scored two converted tries early in the second half. Roberts troubled the defence every time he was in possession and was his team-mates' unanimous choice as player of the match. Soward and Lewis dictated play throughout the match and showed the Lions the calibre of play they must aspire to if they are to have further success in this competition.
Newtown's best forwards were powerhouse backrower Nigel Plum and the hardworking frontrower Shane Shackleton. Secondrower Danny Williams was once again one of the Jets busiest forwards. Grant Millington made a successful return from off-season injury and would have pleased Newtown coach Paul Young with his enterprise.
2006 Jets fullback Aidan Kirk was a popular visitor to the Newtown dressing-room after the match. Kirk is now on the New Zealand Warriors playing roster and hopes to return soon to active playing service after his off-season knee reconstruction surgery. Newtown Jets youngsters Troy Savage and Hep Cahill, who are both of Maori heritage, were interviewed after the game by the New Zealand Maori television service Ngati TV.
The reception given to both teams at fulltime was an unqualified indication that the Auckland Lions inclusion in the Premier League competition can only be good for both the development programs of the New Zealand Rugby League and the status of the NSWRL Premier League.