Today Rob Crosby looks at the South Sydney Rabbitohs ahead of season 2017. Can they ascend the #NRL ...
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Western Suburbs made the Sydney Airport Jets work hard for their two competition points in the VB Premier League match played at Henson Park on Saturday. Wests led 8-0 early in this match and by 10-6 at half-time, but the big Jets forward pack took control in the second half, with Newtown coming away with an eventual 30-10 win. The Magpies had scored two tries in the first ten minutes of play and kept the Jets trapped at their own end of the field for an extended period in the first half.
Newtown coach Colin Murphy was pleased with his players? collective discipline and low mistake rate in the second half, when the Jets put on four unanswered converted tries. Murphy was less than pleased with the team getting away to another slow start, and that both of Wests? tries came from well-weighted kicks in behind the Newtown defensive line ? a trend that has no doubt been noted by opposition strategists.
Forward leaders James Stosic and Sam Isemonger had outstanding games for Newtown, with both men setting examples with their defensive work-rate and charging runs. Tom Gemmell, Luke Douglas and Luke Harlen were also instrumental in overpowering the Wests pack in the second half. Young hooker Nick Doig (from Cronulla?s Jersey Flegg team) made an impressive Premier League debut and filled in capably for the injured Kevin Kingston.
Centres Beau Scott and Ryan McGoldrick turned on their best games for Newtown this season, and both scored valuable tries. Jets? halves David Hall and Russell Aitken gave improved performances, with a precision in-goal kick by Aitken setting up a smartly-taken try by lock Cameron Ciraldo.
A special mention about points-scoring maestro Nathan Merritt ? he took the field despite having suffered from the effects of food poisoning for more than two days. Not surprisingly, his display at full-back was slightly subdued but he still converted all five of Newtown?s tries, including two ?pearlers? from right on the sideline.
Newtown?s Jim Beam Cup team was right in the game with the Sydney Bulls on Sunday, trailing by 16-12 at half-time and 28-18 with twenty minutes remaining. Then the Jets defence and communications fell away badly late in the second half, with the Bulls racing away to a 56-18 win.
Once again the Newtown front-row trio of Dave Buckley, Kiel Roberts and Lafi Manua were among the Jets best, and backrower Rimini Reweti gave another lively display. Half-back Andrew Mortimer and five-eighth Jardine Bobongie (two tries) were the best of Newtown?s back division.
Newtown?s affiliate club Parkes hit the wall in the Group 11 match of the round against the Wellington Cowboys. The Cowboys won at home by 46-22, but the Spacemen still retain second place on the first grade competition table.
Next weekend is a general bye in the Jim Beam Cup competition. In the VB Premier League, Newtown visits Aussie Stadium on Saturday (July 9th) to take on neighbours South Sydney, with this match kicking off at 3.30pm. The Rabbitohs-Sharks NRL main game at Aussie Stadium is timed to start at 5.30pm.
Photo courtesy of: Gary Sutherland Photography.