The Newtown Jets came away with two hard-earned competition points when they defeated the Melbourne Storm 26-20 in the NSW Cup match played at Olympic Park, Melbourne last Saturday. The Jets had led 14-6 at halftime but looked set for defeat when the Storm swept to a 20-14 lead into the latter stages of the second half. A thrilling recovery in the last fifteen minutes made this a memorable and valuable victory for Newtown, on the occasion of the Foundation Club's first-ever visit to the Victorian capital.
Newtown had done well to be in front by 14-6 at the break, given that they were playing into the teeth of a strong, icy wind and that they made their share of errors in the first half, such as giving away penalties on the fifth tackle on three occasions. Five-eighth Johnathon Ford had a strong first half, with the tall Cook Islands international appearing to thrive in the wintry conditions.
The Jets had to do it the hard way in the second half as the Storm dominated territory in the third quarter, scoring three tries to take a 20-14 lead with fifteen minutes remaining. Newtown's fightback was inspired by hard-running forward Ray Moujalli, who exploded onto a pass well inside his own half and made a surging run that laid the groundwork for a try to winger Chris Tuatara-Morrison, who then proceeded to convert his own try from the sideline. At 20-all Newtown had regained the momentum, and five minutes from fulltime Moujalli crashed over under the posts with Tuatara-Morrison again adding the extras.
Jets coach Greg Matterson was pleased to take home the two points, noting that the Storm have had a good record at Olympic Park this year. Matterson praised his team's fourth quarter revival but expressed concern at the "brain explosions" that had led to the Jets frittering away their hard-won halftime lead.
Newtown prop and man of the match Tinirau Arona topped both the tackle count and number of hit-ups, as well as collecting a badly-broken nose. Hooker Keith Peters was very effective from dummy-half while Ray Moujalli and Brad Barrett both made strong contributions. Johnathon Ford and Chris Tuatara-Morrison were the best of Newtown's backs.
Newtown is back at home again this coming Saturday (17th July) against Wentworthville. This 19th round NSW Cup match at Henson Park is timed for kick-off at 3.00pm.