A week can make a big difference in Rugby League fortunes, as the Newtown Jets showed at Henson Park on Saturday when they put their previous week's poor form against Balmain behind them in beating the competition leaders Canterbury-Bankstown.
The Jets turned on a much-improved first half display and led 14-0 at the break. Both teams made plenty of errors in the second half but the Bulldogs scored two converted tries to trail by 14-12, with Newtown desperately defending this narrow margin in the game's final moments.
Newtown's first half completion rate was an exceptional 96%, but the Jets could have made better use of the large amount of possession and favourable field position they enjoyed. Once again Newtown's kicking game was erratic, plus there were two missed try-scoring opportunities that would have extended Newtown's lead.
The Jets' second half performance was marred by poor discipline, with penalties being incurred late in the tackle count as well as a couple of penalties conceded when the Jets were in possession. To some extent Newtown invited the Bulldogs back into the contest and can count themselves somewhat lucky to have held on against the competition leaders, highlighted by several try-saving tackles being made in the last ten minutes.
Jets coach Greg Matterson said that his team showed the class of disciplined performance in the first half that they were capable of against strong opposition. They would have to put two good halves together in future games in order to beat other major premiership contenders. He repeated earlier demands for his players to complete their own sets more effectively and to prevent their opponents from getting to the kick on their final tackle.
Giant prop Mose Masoe had his best game yet in the Newtown colours and deservedly won the man of the match award. Other forwards to play well were hooker and team captain Keith Peters, Khalid Deeb and Tinirau Arona. James Koloamatangi made valuable metres when they were most needed in those final desperate minutes of the second half. Luke Towers, Tu'u Maori and Johnathon Ford were the best of Newtown's backs.
The Newtown Jets travel away next Saturday (8th May) to take on the Newcastle Knights' partnership club, the Central Coast Centurions. This 9th round NSW Cup match is at the Morrie Breen Oval, Gorokan (right next to Wyong Leagues Club), and kicks off at 3.00pm.
Chris Tuatara-Morrison 1 goal
Newtown led 14-0.