Jets make an inglorious exit from the NSW Cup finals
The Newtown Jets have been bundled out of the 2010 NSW Cup finals series, beaten 34-18 by Windsor after the Jets had led 14-2 at halftime. To add to Newtown's humiliation, Windsor had a player sent off two minutes into the second half and accomplished a quite astonishing turnaround with one man down for the remainder of the match. 2GB caller Ray Hadley described Sunday's elimination semi-final at Leichhardt Oval as being the most amazing game of Rugby League he had seen in many years.
Newtown dominated the first half, leading 12-0 after twenty minutes through two tries to front-rower Tinirau Arona, both of which were converted by centre Tu'u Maori. Maori added a penalty goal in the 32nd minute while Windsor kicked a penalty goal right on halftime. The Wolves had shown very little creativity in attack in the first forty minutes and had rarely challenged Newtown's tryline. For their part the Jets had made plenty of errors in the first half but looked to be the team more likely to advance to a preliminary final engagement against the Balmain Tigers.
Referee Gavin West's dismissal of a Windsor forward in the second minute of the second half appeared to galvanise the boys from the North-West into an extraordinary second half resurgence. The Wolves took full advantage of a badly-directed Newtown kick at Windsor's end of the field, turning it into an unconverted try in the 44th minute. The Wolves' confidence and authority grew by the minute as they took control of the rucks and made big inroads with every set of possession. They added tries in the 48th and 60th minutes to take an 18-14 lead. The Jets desperately tried to retrieve the situation and winger Sonny Tuigamala showed resourcefulness in scoring a determined individual try to level the scores with 17 minutes left to play.
Newtown's worst nightmare occurred when a well-placed high kick by the Jets into the Wolves' right hand corner was contested by several players, with Windsor's tall winger descending with the ball and racing away for a 100 metres try. The Wolves could do no wrong at this stage and added another converted try to lead 28-18 with only 8 minutes remaining. Windsor claimed their sixth try of the half two minutes out from fulltime to fully complete the rout.
The Jets coaching staff and supporters will no doubt sift through the ashes of this finals campaign for many weeks to come. The Newtown players appeared to be mesmerised by Windsor's revival and couldn't counter the momentum that swept the Wolves to such a stunning victory. Perhaps the danger signs for Newtown had been evident for several weeks, with a succession of less from impressive wins against teams residing in the nether regions of the NSW Cup competition table. The Jets failed to cope with the pressure when the blowtorch had been applied in Sunday's sudden-death semi-final situation.
Front-rower Tinirau Arona was yet again Newtown's best player and turned in a valiant effort on Sunday. Five-eighth Tom Symonds tried very hard in the second half but was well contained by the super-charged Windsor defence. Centre Tu'u Maori also did his best to get Newtown back into the game but the Wolves' enthusiasm and will to win were not to be denied in their second half fightback.
NSWRL NSW Cup - 2010 finals series
Sunday, 19th September 2010
Newtown v Windsor
David Simmons 3, Daniel Penese, Craig Trindall, Michael Mate tries;
Craig Trindall 5 goals
Tinirau Arona 2, Sonny Tuigamala tries;
Tu'u Maori 3 goals.
Newtown led 14-2.
Referee: Gavin West
Touch Judges: Jason Higgins, Brenden Wood
In-Goal Judges: Mick Laverty, Chris Sutton