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The two NSW Cup double-header promotions held at Henson Park in recent weeks have seen some remarkably similar outcomes.
Two weeks ago both games ended in one-point winning margins, while on Saturday at Henson both of the NSW Cup fixtures ended in draws. Cronulla-Sutherland and Windsor drew 22-all in the curtain-raiser and in the main game it was honours even between Newtown and Western Suburbs with an 18-all draw.
Wests had the better of most of the first forty minutes in Saturday's first leg of this year's Tom Raudonikis Cup series. The Magpies had scored two unconverted tries to lead 8-0 after twenty minutes, and the Jets appeared to be mired in what was a rather dour brand of football. Newtown's supporters came to life when the Jets' speed machine centre Kane Linnett scored two tries late in the first half. Skipper and backrower Jason wells figured strongly in Linnett's first try while fullback Luke Towers and winger Chris Tuatara-Morrison were prominent in the lead-up play for the second, enabling Newtown to lead 12-8 at halftime.
The second half was another war of attrition with the Jets conceding another unconverted try to Wests soon after the halftime break. Linnett's pace and crafty angle running made all the difference as he hared in for his third try with just fifteen minutes remaining. Newtown again showed a worrying inability to lock down a win in the game's latter stages, as handling errors and a crucial penalty gave the Magpies the territorial platform to draw level at 18-all three minutes from fulltime. The Jets had sufficient time left to regroup for one failed field goal attempt.
Coach Greg Matterson admitted his concern with the Jets' lack of nous and discipline when most needed in the game's critical final moments. The players had reverted to unimaginative one-man hit-ups in the first half, rather than employing the creative ball play that had brought such good results against North Sydney. Newtown's standout man of the match was centre Kane Linnett, probably the form player of the early rounds of the NSW Cup competition. Second-rower and captain Jason Wells had his best game of the three competition rounds played so far, and he received strong support from Jason Baitieri, Khalid Deeb and Keith Peters.
The Newtown Jets face a genuine danger game against the Shellharbour Dragons next Saturday (3rd April) at Henson Park. The Dragons (St George-Illawarra's official feeder team) are in winning form and had an excellent record against the Jets last year. There are junior representative curtain-raisers starting at 12 noon on Saturday, and the Jets-Dragons NSW Cup match gets underway at 3pm.
NSWRL NSW Cup - Round 3
Played at Henson Park on Saturday, 27th March 2010.
Kane Linnett 3 tries; Chris Tuatara
Morrison 3 goals
Western Suburbs 18:
Junior Moors 2, George Keppa, Geoff Daniela tries;
Gareth Morton 1 goal.
Half-Time: Newtown led 12-8.
Referee: Chris Sutton
Touch Judges: Shane Smith, Jason Higgins.
Results of the NSWRL curtain-raisers played today at Henson Park:
Harold Matthews Cup: Cronulla-Sutherland 28 defeated Sydney Roosters 6.
SG Ball Cup: Cronulla-Sutherland 26 defeated Sydney Roosters 16.
NSW Cup: Cronulla-Sutherland 22 drew with Windsor 22.