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The Newtown Jets won convincingly against Manly-Warringah in the VB Premier League trial match played at the Central Coast Stadium on Saturday evening. Newtown led by 34-6 at half-time and repelled a Manly second-half fightback to eventually win the game by 44-22.
Newtown coach Paul Young took the opportunity for some positional experimentation in the second half, as well as having a closer look at a number of triallists who had impressed in the previous outing against North Sydney. There were also several Roosters-contracted players on show for the first time this season.
Jets centre Lelea Paea was one of Saturday evening?s standout performers with three tries, while the abundantly-talented young lock-forward Setiamata Sa collected two tries and impressed with his strength and handling skills. Half-back Josh Lewis showed what a major asset he is going to be for both the Roosters and Newtown clubs in 2006, and added to the intriguing battle for scrum-base positional selections in the top grades in the next few weeks. Kiwi triallist Darren Lang stepped up in class on the weekend, and front-rower Lafi Manua?s solid display earned him a place on the Roosters bench for the NRL trial match. Roosters coach Ricky Stuart sent the giant Manua on in the fourth quarter of the main game, where the big fellow was promptly rewarded with an outsize ?shiner? for his trouble.
The Jets Jim Beam Cup squad took on a strong Bulldog side at Henson Park on Sunday afternoon and although well beaten by 28-10 would take plenty of heart from their performance. Coach Greg Matterson reports that this was a quite satisfactory trial, and that it allowed him to assess some of the fringe members of the Jim Beam Cup trial squad playing under real pressure from a Bulldogs team that included several Premier League regulars.
Next weekend the Newtown Jets have teams in action at both Henson Park and out of town. On Saturday (February 25th) a Jets VB Premier League-Jim Beam Cup combination takes on South Sydney?s Premier League aspirants in an all inner-city ?rumble? kicking off at 5.00pm. This main trial will be preceded by Roosters-Rabbitohs clashes in Harold Matthews (2.00pm) and SG Ball (3.30pm) junior representative trial games.
On Sunday (February 26th) Newtown?s VB Premier League trial squad travels south to the WIN Stadium, Wollongong to take on St.George-Illawarra at 3.00pm, as a curtain-raiser to the Roosters-Dragons NRL trial match. This will be Newtown?s final VB Premier League trial game before the opening competition round on the weekend of 10/11/12th March.
Caption: Creative Newtown Jets halfback Josh Lewis (formerly with St.George Illawarra) is going to be a class act with the Roosters-Jets alliance in 2006.
Photo courtesy of Hugh Martel.