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The Newtown Jets have proven once again to be the Great Escape artists of the 2010 NSW Cup competition. After trailing the Windsor Wolves 14-12 at halftime at Henson Park on Saturday, and still behind by 20-18 into the last minute of play, Jets winger Troy Savage ripped through several attempted tackles to deliver Newtown another heart-stopping victory by 22 points to 20.
The win keeps Newtown in first place on the NSW Cup competition table and ensures a blockbuster away match against second-placed Canterbury-Bankstown next Saturday. Windsor had all the early possession and momentum in the opening exchanges and led 6-0 after eight minutes. Newtown drew level in the 25th minute when hooker James Aubusson plunged over from dummy-half after good leadup work by second-rower Aidan Guerra and in the wake of a sensational midfield burst by giant front-rower Ryan Verlinden.
The Wolves regained the lead with a try from a perfectly-directed grubber kick into the in-goal zone and they extended their leading margin to 14-6 through a penalty goal. The Jets finished the first half on an upbeat note when tall centre Tom Symonds scored following constructive approach play by five-eighth Johnathon Ford and halfback Liam Foran.
Newtown took the lead for the first time in the game five minutes into the second half as the powerhouse Ryan Verlinden crashed over after accepting a perfect pass from front-rower Tinirau Arona. Jets centre Tu'u Maori landed his third conversion to give Newtown an 18-14 advantage.
The Jets dominated possession and territory in the third quarter but lacked the necessary precision of execution and variation in attack to crack open the Wolves' defensive line. An attempted miracle pass in midfield turned possession over to Windsor, resulting in the Wolves drawing level at 18-all. The visitors edged ahead 20-18 through a penalty goal ten minutes out from fulltime.
It all looked as if the Jets were about to pay the ultimate price for their below-average completion rate and repeated dropped ball, but in what turned out to be the last play of the day, Johnathon Ford and Tu'u Maori combined for the solidly-built Troy Savage to salvage another last minute win for the Jets, this time in front of the season's biggest crowd at Henson Park.
Newtown coach Greg Matterson noted his team's obvious shortcomings in his post-match analysis - the poor match completion rate, dropped ball, pushed passes and flawed execution, but praised his players' ability to make metres from out of their own end, and most of all, the team's undoubted competitiveness and uncanny ability to "get out of jail". Tough front-rower Tinirau Arona claimed another man of the match award and hooker Keith Peters was the best of the other forwards. Centre Tom Symonds gave a strong performance in both attack and defence, despite this being his comeback match from an extended layoff through injury. Winger Troy Savage confirmed his status as the competition's form winger.
The Newtown Jets clash with neighbours and old foes Canterbury-Bankstown at the Crest Stadium, Bass Hill next Saturday (28th August), in a match that may well decide the 2010 NSW Cup minor premiership. This 25th round NSW Cup fixture is timed to start at 3.00pm.
NSWRL NSW cup
Saturday, 21st August 2010
Newtown Jets 22:
James Aubusson, Tommy Symonds, Ryan Verlinden, Troy Savage tries;
Tu'u Maori 3 goals
Windsor Wolves 20:
Maurice Blair, Craig Trindall, Josh Bateman tries;
Craig Trindall 4 goals.
Windsor led 14-12.
Referee: Gerard Sutton
Touch Judges: John Woods. Peter Sciberras.
Result of the NSW Cup Round 24 curtain-raiser played earlier today at Henson Park:
Shellharbour Dragons 24