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The Sydney Airport Jets won their VB Premier League match against North Sydney on Saturday in similar style to the previous week?s thriller against the Balmain Tigers ? a lethargic first half, followed by a complete turnaround in the second forty minutes. The Jets trailed the Bears by 18-0 at half-time and looked to have used up all of their ?get out of jail? cards. Six tries later, Newtown had retrieved another two competition points with this improbable 32-28 win over their old 1908 foundation club rivals.
The Jets barely completed 50% of their first half sets of possession and looked to be out-enthused by the Gary Freeman-coached North Sydney, who were desperately striving to stay in contention for the 2005 semi-finals. Newtown?s second half resurgence was founded on a dominance of quality possession, better ball control, a reduced error count and crisp, competent finishing. The Sydney Airport Jets grabbed the lead for the first time in the game with only fourteen minutes remaining, while being urged on by another big Henson Park crowd and under the interested observation of the evergreen trouper Frank Hyde.
Frank, 89 years young and immaculately turned out as usual, enthralled the crowd at the half-time break with some Henson Park reminiscences and a spirited rendition of the old music hall favourite ?Who threw the overalls in Mrs. Murphy?s chowder?! Frank?s recent visits to Henson Park to see two of his former clubs in action have become the stuff of legend, and those present on these occasions should count themselves as privileged for the experience.
Newtown?s bench players Jacob Selmes, Jardine Bobongie, Luke Harlen and Clifford Manua all contributed strongly to this win. Veteran forwards Dave Thompson and ?Slamming Sam? Isemonger were the team?s bulwarks and gave great support to their younger team-mates. Five-eighth Russell Aitken had one of his best games of the season and laid on a superb try for hard running second-rower Jon Green. Young half-back Ben Green impressed in his debut appearance in the Premier League. The enigmatic Ryan McGoldrick had a mixed game with some regrettable moments in the first half, but then redeemed himself by scoring one try and creating a ?pearler? for Vince Mellars in the action-packed second half. Sadly, winger Frank Samia suffered what is probably a season-ending leg fracture late in the game.
In Saturday?s curtain-raiser, Queensland defeated NSW 20-18 in a thrilling Women?s Rugby League interstate challenge match. Special guest Frank Hyde, who first played for the Newtown Bluebags more than 70 years ago, was genuinely impressed with both teams? skills levels and their display of high standard, competitive football. Congratulations to those members of the Newtown Jetettes who gained NSW selection.
Parkes charged into the Group 11 semi-finals with a tearaway 74-28 win over neighbours Manildra, and the Spacemen now advance into the elimination semi against Dubbo Macquarie next Sunday. Classy Parkes fullback Todd Jayet is the top points-scorer in the Group 11 first grade competition for 2005.
Both Newtown teams are in action next Saturday (August 13th). The Jim Beam Cup team is at home to Asquith at Henson Park next Saturday, at the later kick-off time of 4.30pm. In the VB Premier League, the Jets take on the Sydney Roosters at Aussie Stadium also on Saturday, with this match due to start at 5.30pm. This Premier League match is the main curtain-raiser to the Roosters-Sharks NRL fixture timed to start at 7.30pm.
Photo courtesy of Gary Sutherland Photography.