Jets strong second half proves a winner

Saturday's fine weather attracted a big crowd to Henson Park for the NSW Cup double-header. In the early game, the Cronulla Sharks defeated Manly-Warringah 27-20 after the Sharks had led 20-0. In the main fixture, the Newtown Jets found it tough going in the first half against a determined Western Suburbs team. The Jets led 6-0 at halftime but took control of the game in the second half to pull away to a comfortable 28-0 win.

Newtown lacked cohesion in the first half and missed several scoring opportunities. The Jets spent a lot of time in Wests territory with no points dividend, and the score remained at nil-all until the 31st minute before playmaker Brad Takairangi put new signing Sam Latu in at the southern right-hand corner. Newtown had turned the ball over 3 times in their first 5 sets in what was a rather lacklustre first half performance. During the halftime break coach Greg Matterson urged his players to draw inspiration from lock Ahmad Ellaz and hooker Kurt Kara who had both turned in top-class first half performances.

The Jets responded to the support from their big home crowd and tries early in the second half to fullback Mark Kheirallah and Kurt Kara , both converted by halfback Brett Lane, put Newtown in command with an 18-0 lead. Five-eighth Johnathon Ford had his best game this season and there was much more precision and control in his kicking game. Newtown gained five repeat sets in the second half through well-directed kicks into Wests' in-goal, forcing a much heavier defensive workload on the Magpies. This fatigue factor no doubt contributed to errors by Wests as they tried to play catch-up football in the last twenty minutes.

Newtown's coaching staff nominated young lock forward Ahmad Ellaz as the player of the match. Ellaz has been in great form in recent weeks and is proving to be one of the finds of the NSW Cup season. Other forwards who stood out in what was a good overall team display were the ever-reliable Tinirau Arona, Kurt Kara and Khalid Deeb. Johnno Ford, Francis Vaiotu and Brad Takairangi were the best of the backs and winger Sam Latu, who had transferred to the Jets from Balmain during the week, scored 2 tries on his debut.

The Jets now join the rest of the NSW Cup clubs in a general bye this coming weekend (2nd/3rd July), and then have their own scheduled bye on the following weekend (9th/10th July). Newtown's next NSW Cup match will be away to the Balmain Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday, 16th July at 3pm. This inner-west local derby will decide the winners of the Trevor Ryan-Neil Pringle Shield for 2011.

NSWRL NSW Cup - 16th round.

Newtown 28:
Sam Latu 2, Mark Kheirallah, Kurt Kara, Phil Graham tries;
Brett Lane 3 goals, Mark Kheirallah 1 goal
Western Suburbs 0.

Newtown led 6-0.

Referee: Shane Charman
Touch Judges: Matt Damaso, Jimmy Oliveira.

Weather: Fine, sunny, cool.
Playing Surface: Very good.

This match was played at Henson Park.

NSWRL NSW Cup - 16th round.

Cronulla-Sutherland 27
Manly-Warringah 20.

Cronulla-Sutherland led 20-0.

Referee: Gavin Reynolds.
Touch Judges: Nick Beashel, Peter Sciberras.

This curtain-raiser match was also played at Henson Park.

Newtown's team on Saturday was:
1 - Mark Kheirallah
2 - Byron Ford, 5 - Sam Latu
16 - Brad Takairangi, 4 - Phil Graham
6 - Johnathon Ford, 7 - Brett Lane
13 - Ahmad Ellaz
11 - Willie Mataka, 12 - Brad Barrett
8 - Tinirau Arona, 10 - Khalid Deeb (Capt.)
9 - Kurt Kara.
14 - Francis Vaiotu, 15 - Byron Fruean
17 - Ryan Verlinden, 19 - Tom Kerr
21 - James Koloamatangi.