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The inaugural Jack Rayner-Bumper Farrell Challenge Cup match was notable for the searing heat, a high penalty count, and what proved to be a spirited contest between two of Rugby League's foundation clubs, the Newtown Jets and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Souths won the low-scoring match by 10-4, after having led 4-0 at half-time.
The Newtown coaching staff would have taken a number of positive soundings from this game, given that no less than 20 of the 24 players who turned out for the Jets were on debut for the club, and that several of these young triallists were recent graduates from the national under 20's competition, the Toyota Cup. The willing performances by both teams appeared to defy the stifling conditions, with the temperature gauge hovering at a hellish 41 degrees when the match kicked off at 6pm.
Referees Sutton and Munro were determined to enforce a stricter interpretation of the play the ball rule, with the Rabbitohs receiving 16 penalties to Newtown's 9. The Jets turned over a lot of ball and had a low completion rate, ensuring that Souths had the majority of possession in the game's first three quarters. The Rabbitohs could well have run up a comfortable lead had they capitalised on all of their scoring opportunities in the first 60 minutes. Newtown scrambled well in defence and showed a lot of old-fashioned determination in defending their line for extended spells, despite the rustiness usually associated with the season's first trial game and the abominable playing conditions.
Souths scored their first try in the opening quarter and their second midway through the third session of play. Both of the Rabbitohs' tries came from kicks, whereas Newtown's sole try to winger Sione Taka virtually on three-quarter time came on the end of some well-crafted ball movement. Newtown's coaching staff gave special mention to lock Boyd Strickland and centre Francis Vaiotu in their post-match deliberations, and also noted the strong displays from front-rowers Khalid Deeb and Francis Tuigamala, as well as the two hookers Jamie Clark and Scott Jones.
Newtown's best quarter of the match was the fourth, as the Jets spun the ball around confidently and looked like salvaging a draw in front of the partisan Redfern Oval crowd. An old-style melee late in the game at the Phillip Street end of the ground lent an authentically retro touch to this clash between the two old inner-city rivals.
The Newtown Jets' next trial match is against last year's NSW Cup premiers, Canterbury-Bankstown, at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday, 12th February, with this game timed to get underway at 3.00pm.
The Return to Redfern Rugby League Match: 2011 Jack Rayner-Bumper Farrell Challenge Cup
Saturday, 5th February 2011, Redfern Oval
South Sydney v Newtown Kick-Off: 6.00pm.
South Sydney 10: (Chris McQueen, James Roberts tries; Adam Reynolds goal) defeated Newtown 4: (Sione Taka try). Half-Time: South Sydney led 4-0.
Referees: Gerard Sutton, Dave Munro Touch Judges: Adam Gee, Gavin West
Weather: Extremely hot. Playing Surface: Excellent Crowd: 3,000. (4,500 tickets had been pre-sold and no doubt the heat wave deterred some people from attending).
Newtown's team: Daniel Cray Michael Winchester, Tom Kerr Francis Vaiotu, Fred Latulipe Matthew Winchester, Josh Kent Boyd Strickland Ahmad Ellaz, Brad Barrett Francis Tuigamala, Khalid Deeb (Capt.) Jamie Clark. Bench: Joey Taefu, Scott Jones, James Koloamatangi Trent Trotter, Sione Taka, Ryan Verlinden Brock Harmer, Chris Enahoro, Chris Afamasaga Brett Lane, Nick Kassis. Coach: Greg Matterson.
South Sydney's team: Malcolm Webster Chris McQueen, Kane Morgan Shaune Corrigan, Junior Vaivai Matt Mundine, Adam Reynolds Blake Judd Deon Apps, Adrian Ha'angana George Burgess, Ben Ross (Capt.) Nathan Peats. Bench: Josh Mansour, Kennedy Pettyborne Bennett Leslie, Curtis Johnston, James Roberts Jay Florimo, Joseph So'oalo, Brendan McKinnon Jake Shearer, John Kaifoto. Coach: John Lang.