Jets ring down the curtain in fine

The Sydney Airport Jets ended their 2003 NSW Premier League season with a thrilling 32-28 win over the Newcastle Knights, played at Energy Australia Stadium on Sunday in front of a crowd of more than 15,000. The Jets were away to a wretched start in this match, trailing by 16-0 after as many minutes, and looking straight down the barrel of an end of season rout. Coach Colin Murphy made some judicious on-field changes, as Newtown fought back through tries to winger Alf Duncan, second rower Tony Phillips and centre John Sinisa to go the break all tied up at 16-all. The second half was notable for an inspired display by half-back and captain Craig Field, who scored two tries, set up another for Sinisa and led by example right through the pulsating second half. Newtown took the lead at 22-16, then faltered badly during a bad patch as the young Knights stormed back to the front by 28-22. Field's second darting try and his precision pass to the pacy Sinisa put the Jets ahead by 32-28 with barely ten minutes remaining, a lead they grimly defended despite some thoroughly anxious moments amid a barrage of Newcastle penalties. Field was well supported in the backline by strong running centre Dustin Cooper (on loan from the Melbourne Storm), in-form fullback Andrew Le Breton, Alf Duncan and five-eighth and goal kicker Troy Barnes. Lock and former Junior Kiwi Aaron Trinder gave the standout performance of his three seasons with Newtown, and was instrumental in the Jets' first half fightback as he powered through the Knights' defences. Forwards Tony Phillips, Ben Tickle and Josh Annesley also grafted hard. Fellow packmen Joe Lichaa, Monah Elahmad and Aaron Sweeney deserve special mention for returning early from the injured list to make effective contributions to this win. Newtown's Jim Beam Cup team also ended their 2003 competition commitments on an upbeat note, in recovering from a 24-8 deficit to snatch a 24-all draw with the Windsor Wolves. This match at Henson Park on Saturday certainly lacked nothing by way of intensity and ferocity. Jets five-eighth Craig West and second rower Mark Fakahua scored two tries each, with ex-Newcastle Knight Ryan Milligan scoring a try and kicking two important goals. Half-back Matt Rose was again in superlative form, as he repeatedly tormented the Windsor defenders. All the Newtown forwards worked hard, with Luke Ellis, Andrew Kaleopa and Lee Trasler prominent. The Sydney Airport Jets players, staff and officials wish to thank all of their generous sponsors who gave such crucial support right throughout the 2003 season, and of course the many Jets fans who all helped to make home games at Henson Park such a unique community Rugby League experience. We'll see you all again for our 97th season in 2004.