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There was certainly no shortage of controversial incidents in Friday night?s VB Premier League match played at one of Rugby League?s most atmospheric venues, North Sydney Oval. Three Newtown players were sin-binned in the first half, with the Jets reduced to eleven men for a brief period. Front-rower Frank-Paul Nuuausala was sent off two minutes prior to half-time, leaving the Jets down to twelve players for the remainder of the match. Nuuausala will face the judiciary later this week on two charges of making a dangerous tackle and striking an opponent.
Newtown showed plenty of old-fashioned ticker in going on to win the match 38-12, after having led 20-2 at half-time. The Bears were still in close range when they trailed 20-12 with fifteen minutes remaining in the match, but the Jets finished much the stronger of the two sides. Referee Russell Smith had a busy night with the whistle, awarding an astounding total of thirty penalties (18-12 to Norths for the record). The Jets have retained the Frank Hyde Shield for 2006, with the victorious Newtown team receiving the trophy from Frank?s eldest son Greg Hyde (a former first grade fullback with both North Sydney and Parramatta).
Newtown?s best forwards on the night were Heath L?Estrange, Glenn Hall, Luke Gordon and Mitch Aubusson. Second rower Nigel Plum put in a strong first half and continues to make excellent progress after his enforced layoff. Aubusson scored an important try that put the match beyond the Bears? grasp, with this stylish young lock showing more than just a touch of the youthful Ron Coote. Jamie Soward and Aidan Kirk were outstanding in the backs, with the busy Soward collecting two tries and kicking five goals. Flying winger Troy Malcolm went desperately close to scoring twice in the first half and was nearly decapitated by an opponent?s high tackle on one occasion.
Newtown fielded a reshuffled line-up in the Jim Beam Cup match against Asquith on Sunday following a series of late withdrawals. Under the circumstances, it was an admirable performance by the Jets to win this ?crunch? match by 40-24 after the scores had been locked up at 18-all at half-time. Newtown had asserted control in the third quarter of the match but weren?t out of the woods when they led 34-24 with fifteen minutes still to play. A late converted try finally sealed an important win for the Jets, with the race for the finals in this competition really hotting up.
The Jets? best were utility forward Luke Gordon (who had played very well from the bench in Friday night?s Premier League win), Matt Habojan, Darren Lang and Nathan McMahon. This match at Storey Park was something of a small-scale club reunion, with five former Newtown players turning out with the opposition.
Up in Group 11 the Parkes Spacemen won a remarkably high-scoring match against Dubbo Macquarie by 66-34. The Wellington Cowboys remain undefeated in the Group 11 first grade competition.
Both Newtown teams return to Henson Park next Saturday (August 5th) and Jets fans will be keen to see both sides back on their home ground with the semi-finals on the near horizon for both competitions. In the Jim Beam Cup, Newtown plays Belrose at 1.15pm and in the VB Premier League main game, the Jets face off with the Newcastle Knights at 3.00pm.