The unforgiving nature of Rugby League was never more evident than at Henson Park on Saturday. The final scoreline of 44-20 in favour of the Cronulla Sharks did no justice to the injury-weakened Newtown Jets, who had been in control for three-quarters of this game. But it's what happens at the business end of the match that really counts, as the Jets unravelled in the last twenty minutes.
Newtown had led 14-10 at half-time through tries to Jon Wilson and Alf Duncan, and three goals to the on-target Troy Barnes. The Jets respective completion rates tell much of the story - an eighty per cent completion rate in the first half, falling to sixty in the second. Four tries to the Sharks backline pacemen in the last fifteen minutes blew out the final margin, but does not reflect the effort put in by the depleted Jets lineup.
Newtown's best were Dave Lambert, Steve Skinnon, Jason Buchanan, Luke Wardle and Garth Wood, with Troy Barnes laying on an exceptional kicking game.
The Newtown Metro Cup youngsters turned on one of the upsets of the season, displaying great character and courage to defeat the strong Wentworthville team by 26-18, turning around a 54-10 first round trouncing. What with injuries and call-ups to First Division, this team was virtually down to the last registered player, but to a man they dug deeply into their reserves of comradeship and spirit.
Jets half Adam Nathaniel was outstanding, and Simon Mason showed leadership skills of the highest calibre. Ray Carriage, Simon Davies, Scott Fenton, and Phil Ingram also stood out, but on a special day with three club icons in attendance, all of these young men showed what it means to wear the colours of Australia's oldest Rugby League club with pride.
The Special Tribute Day to three of Newtown's greatest Titans - Dick Poole, Gordon "Punchy" Clifford and Bobby Whitton - was a total triumph. The big crowd warmly acclaimed the old champions, and it was evident that being back on the turf of Henson Park on a match-day struck a chord with these feisty old Bluebag war-horses.
Newtown meet the St. George-Illawarra Dragons at Henson Park this coming Saturday, July 6, starting at 3 p.m. There will be several curtain-raisers prior to the First Division match involving competition games for the famous Camperdown Dragons JRLFC. The Metro Cup squad plays away to Kellyville at Kellyville Oval on Saturday also, with an early kick-off at 12.30 p.m.