Jets on the rebound against Cronulla
The Newtown Jets put the previous weekend's shoddy performance behind them when they defeated Cronulla-Sutherland 44-18 in the NSW Cup match played at Henson Park on Saturday. The Jets had pulled away to an 18-6 lead when they scored right on half-time, and then effectively stitched up the result with three more tries early in the second half.
The Sharks had made a real contest of the match in the first half, with Newtown only breaking a 6-all deadlock through five-eighth Johnathon Ford's 50-metre intercept try in the 30th minute. The Papua-New Guinean international centre Tu'u Maori extended the Jets' lead to 14-6 with a penalty goal, and then proceeded to sprint and swerve his way to an exhilarating individual try right on the stroke of half-time.
Newtown turned on a points-scoring blitzkrieg early in the second half, with tries to fullback Luke Towers, winger Troy Savage and backrower Tinirau Arona blowing the margin out to 34-6. The Jets then fell into a very flat period during which they gave away a string of penalties and turned over possession, enabling the Sharks to pull back to trail by 34-18 with 15 minutes remaining. Cronulla's brave resurgence was hindered by the loss of both of their halves through injury, a major setback to any team. Newtown regained the ascendancy through late tries to utility back Russell Aitken and backrower Brad Takairangi (his second of the match).
While acknowledging that this had been a much-improved performance, Jets coach Greg Matterson said that the side "wasn't quite where they should be" in terms of team cohesiveness. He observed that there were still 15 rounds to play and that the NSW Cup was shaping up as a very tough competition. He was concerned with his team's second half lapse and conceded that Cronulla's injuries had made Newtown's task all the more achievable.
Centre Tu'u Maori won the man of the match award, while other Newtown players to stand out were Brad Takairangi, Luke Towers and front-rower Ryan Verlinden. Second-rower Tom Symonds proved his versatility when he successfully switched into the centres after speedster Sonny Tuigamala had aggravated his ankle injury.
The Jets face up to another confident and much-improved opponent in the Melbourne Storm at Henson Park next Saturday (22nd May). This will be the Melbourne Storm's first appearance at Henson Park as a NSW Cup entity, with this match getting underway at 3.00pm.
NSWRL NSW Cup - 10th Round
Saturday, 15th May 2010
Newtown v Cronulla-Sutherland.
Tu'u Maori 5 conversions, 1 penalty goal
Stuart Flanagan 3 tries; Matt Wright 2, Josh Lewis goals.
Newtown led 18-6.