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Newtown might have claimed the competition points against the Shellharbour Dragons at Henson Park on Saturday, but it was anything but a convincing performance from the Jets. Newtown led 12-6 at halftime and 18-6 very early in the second half but soon allowed the Dragons to pull back level at 18-all. The Jets regained the lead with about twelve minutes remaining and extended their margin to 26-18 with a penalty goal late in the second half.
The Jets missed at least three try-scoring opportunities in the game's opening minutes through poor execution. Second-rower Brad Takairangi, on his debut for Newtown, showed great determination and strength as he steamrolled through the Dragons right-side defence to score Newtown's first try. Takairangi enhanced his record by positioning Kane Linnett for the centre's sixth try of the season just prior to halftime.
The second half was barely underway when Jets fullback Luke Towers and five-eighth Johnathon Ford combined smartly with centre Sonny Tuigamala for the latter to score. Winger Chris Tuatara-Morrison kicked his third goal for Newtown to draw away to an 18-6 lead. The Dragons pulled back to 18-all, with both of Shellharbour's second-half tries originating from Newtown's midfield errors. The game was certainly in the balance with the Jets spending an extended period defending on their own line and having to defuse a succession of attacking kicks from the Dragons. Luke Towers was again prominent in what turned out to be the match-winning try, when he slashed through the Dragons' defensive line and off-loaded to hooker Keith Peters who crashed over near the northern end goal posts.
Jets coach Greg Matterson rated this win as a rather indifferent performance and stressed that considerable improvement is needed in future weeks; the completion rate of just over 50% in the second half was evidence of Newtown's error count. The team needs to learn to control possession and to sustain pressure on the opposition. Newtown's handling mistakes, average kicking game and concession of penalties have all been putting the team under extra defensive pressure.
Hard-working lock forward Jason Baitieri was Newtown's man of the match, with other strong forward performances coming from Brad Takairangi, Keith Peters and Khalid Deeb. Newtown's best backs were Luke Towers, Sonny Tuigamala and Chris Tuatara-Morrison.
The Newtown Jets are at home at Henson Park again next Saturday (10th April) when they confront the much-improved Auckland Warriors at 3.00pm. Auckland trounced the previously-unbeaten Balmain Tigers last Saturday so the Jets are sure to be up against confident and reinvigorated opposition.
NSWRL NSW Cup
Saturday, 3rd April 2010
Newtown Jets 26:
Brad Takairangi, Kane Linnett, Sonny Tuigamala, Keith Peters:
Chris Tuatara-Morrison 4 conversions, 1 penalty goal
Shellharbour Dragons 18:
Brad Davidson 2, Michael Lett tries;
Scott Jones 2, Joe Vickery goals.
Newtown led 12-6.
Results of curtain-raisers played at Henson Park today.
NSWRL Junior Representative Fixtures - Round 8
Harold Matthews Cup:
Manly-Warringah 34 defeated Sydney Roosters 4
SG Ball Cup:
Sydney Roosters 46 defeated Manly-Warringah 10.