ICYMI, on Thursday the @NRL - National Rugby League released the 2018 #NRLDraw.
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The Sydney Airport Jets' dramatic 26-20 win over the Penrith-St.Marys Cougars confirmed the truth of the old saying that there are lies, damned lies and statistics. Newtown had trailed 20-4 at halftime in this NSW Premier League match at the Western Weekender Stadium, and looked to be gone for all money - and yet the match stats sheets show that the Jets actually missed more tackles, completed fewer sets and made more errors in the second half, during which they staged such a stunning comeback to upset the fourth placed Cougars! Newtown might have had limited attacking opportunities in the second half, but they turned every chance into a try. Likewise, while some tackles were missed in this half, all the critical ones that really needed to be made were made to keep the Cougars scoreless. And what amazing defensive performances there were - who could forget teenage front-rower Aaron Sweeney, making his Premier League debut, desperately sprinting across in cover to mow down noted Cougars speedster Brett Howland, or lion-hearted second-rower Billy Najarrin breaking from a scrum and crash-tackling a flying opposition centre who was in open space? The Jets steadily pegged back the 20-4 half-time deficit, and found themselves 26-20 to the better with fifteen minutes remaining. In what was a truly gripping finish, Newtown unrelentingly defended this lead as the Cougars blew chances through frantic catch-up football. Captain Craig Field played a major role in the second half fightback, laying on the final passes for tries to Troy Barnes and Andrew Le Breton. Alf Duncan loped away for a first half intercept try, and made two long breaks in the second half that led to tries, as well collecting a second for himself. Young backs Ryan Milligan and John Sinisa did everything asked of them, while Sweeney's debut performance was a revelation. Forwards Tabua Cakacaka, Campbell McNiven, Aaron Trinder, Bill Najarrin and Ben Tickle ripped right into the Cougars, while hookers Luke Sant and Luke Ellis worked overtime in defence. Newtown's Jim Beam Cup team turned in a horror first half in their match against Erina at Henson Park, trailing 32-4 at the break. No doubt they missed the services of those players promoted into the Premier League squad and who played so well against the Cougars. The young Jets fought back in the second half, eventually going down to the Eagles by 42-24. The Sydney Airport Jets return to Henson Park this Saturday (August 16), when they meet Parramatta in the Premier League at 3pm. The Jim Beamers travel to McCredie Park to take on Guildford also on Saturday, with this match getting underway at 6pm.