Jets let one out of the bag

The Newtown Jets lost 22-20 to the Central Coast Centurions in the Jets' first home game of the 2011 season. The Centurions are the Newcastle Knights reserve team and have been one of the best-performed sides in the early rounds of the 2011 NSW Cup. This was a game of missed opportunities for the Jets, and their task wasn't made any easier by their failure to take full advantage of the strong southerly breeze behind them in the first half.

The Centurions made a good start when they received a penalty from the kick-off and then scored from a one-on-one strip in the fourth minute of play. The Central Coast lads extended their lead to 10-0 in the 15th minute after Newtown had turned over possession midfield. The Jets came back into the game by way of two determined tries to rangy forward Chris Enahoro, ensuring that the score was tied up at 10-all at halftime.

Newtown's coach Greg Matterson issued a challenge to his players at halftime, urging them to take the play straight into their opponents and overpower them through the forwards with strong, tough football. His formula certainly worked in the opening ten minutes of the second half, with tries being scored by five-eighth Johnathon Ford and winger Steve Naughton, taking Newtown out to a 20-10 lead. Powerhouse forwards Lama Tasi, Daniel Conn and Chris Enahoro followed Matterson's instructions to the letter and dominated their opponents. This ten-point lead should have been built on and the outcome wrapped up. The Jets had the firepower at their disposal to take control of the game and Newtown's young play-makers will need to learn from the missed opportunities and wrong options taken in the second half.

Penalties and lost ball at critical moments let the Centurions back into the match and when they scored wide out in the 78th minute to draw level at 20-all, there seemed to be a grim inevitability that the try would be converted. The Jets mounted a desperate last minute raid on the Centurions' line which saw the ball travel through about ten pairs of hands, but the movement was eventually shut down. Several new players had been slotted into the Jets' line-up late in the week and the team's combination will only be improved with this narrow loss behind them.

Daniel Conn, Lama Tasi and Chris Enahoro were the best of a willing bunch of Newtown forwards and an injury-free Steve Naughton continues to impress with his competence in both attack and defence.
The Jets move into round 4 of the 2011 NSW Cup when they confront traditional rivals North Sydney at North Sydney Oval next Saturday, April 2nd. This match is the first leg of the 2011 Frank Hyde Shield series and will kick off at 3.00pm.

NSWRL NSW Cup - Round 3
Saturday, 26th March 2011
Newtown Jets v Central Coast Centurions
Henson Park
Kick-Off: 3.00 pm.

Central Coast Centurions 22: Keith Lulia, Scott Briggs, Kyle O'Donnell, Kevin Naiqama tries; Peter Mata'utia 3 goals
defeated Newtown Jets 20: Chris Enahoro 2, Johnathon Ford, Steve Naughton tries; Mark Kheirallah, Justin Carney goals.
Half-Time: 10-all.
Referee: Luke Phillips.
Touch Judges: Robbie Bowen, Brendan Wood.
Weather: Overcast, cool, strong southerly breeze.
Playing surface: Good.
This match was played at Henson Park.

Newtown's team was: Rhys Pritchard, Steve Naughton, Justin Carney, Phil Graham, Willie Mataka, Johnathon Ford, Mark Kheirallah, Ahmad Ellaz, Brad Barrett, Tom Symonds, Daniel Conn, Khalid Deeb (Capt.), Kurt Kara.
Bench: Francis Vaiotu, Byron Fruean, Lama Tasi, Chris Enahoro

Other NSW Cup Round 3 results:
Cronulla-Sutherland 42 defeated Auckland Vulcans 18;
North Sydney 56 defeated Western Suburbs 10;
Canterbury-Bankstown 48 defeated Manly-Warringah 30;
Wentworthville 30 defeated Winsor Wolves 18