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The Newtown Jets claimed their first premiership points for the new season with their 44-16 demolition of the North Sydney Bears in the second-round NSW Cup fixture at Henson Park on Saturday.
The match was played in extremely hot and humid conditions that were a real trial for players and spectators alike. The Jets led 18-0 at half-time and took control of the game with a further three tries in a ten-minute spell immediately after the half-time break.
The Newtown boys had the task in front of them when the Bears dominated possession for an extended period midway through the first session. Newtown's determined defence in their own quarter and the Bears' high mistake rate saw the Jets through this danger period. With the previous week's loss to Balmain in mind, the Jets' coaching staff and supporters breathed a little more easily after Newtown pulled away to a 38-12 lead with only ten minutes remaining in the game.
Newtown's coach Greg Matterson pointed out that the Jets had plenty of work to do in future games in reducing their error rate and improving their ball security. Matterson noted that Newtown's completion rate was still below the required benchmark, although the appalling playing conditions on Saturday clearly contributed to the players' mistake-rates for both teams.
The Jets' best player and best forward was the tough second-rower and ex-Shark Brad Barrett who ran with purpose and hit hard in defence. Front-rower Martin Kennedy, in his first game with Newtown since the marathon 2008 Grand Final, made valuable ground when most needed while chunky hooker Nick Doig showed surprising speed when he scored Newtown's first try. Centre Sonny Tuigamala had an outstanding game, with the in-form Chris Tuatara-Morrison and Troy Savage being the best of the other backs. Saturday's game was the first leg of the 2010 Frank Hyde Shield, a talisman-trophy that the Jets have vowed to reclaim in their 103rd season.
The Newtown Jets face up to another long-time rival in fellow foundation club the Western Suburbs Magpies at Henson Park next Saturday (27th March). There is another full day's program of Rugby League at the historic ground on Saturday, with the two Sydney Roosters-Cronulla Sharks junior representative games getting underway at 10.00am. Cronulla-Sutherland and the Windsor Wolves provide a NSW Cup curtain-raiser at 1.00pm, with the Jets and Magpies main feature timed for kick-off at 3.00pm.