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The Newtown Jets handled the Henson Park quagmire on Saturday better than the visiting Newcastle Knights, with the Jets winning this 22nd round VB Premier League match by 38-16. The Knights travelled to Henson Park with an impressive recent winning record and needed to win to sustain their late charge for the finals. Newtown took charge of this game with four tries within the space of fifteen minutes in the first half and had run up a 26-6 lead by half-time.
Newtown scored again early in the second half when halfback Jamie Soward fired out a superb midfield pass to the unmarked Jets winger Aaron Lai who scored unopposed. The Knights staged a brief rally fifteen minutes from full-time when they put on two quick tries to trail 30-16. A late penalty goal and converted try to the irrepressible Soward took Newtown out to their final winning margin of 38-16.
This was a competent and workmanlike performance from the Jets, given Henson Park?s bog-like midfield area and the late changes made to the original team selection. Newtown coach Paul Young was pleased with the team?s discipline and adherence to the game plan where they targeted deficiencies in the Knights? blindside defence.
The Jets forwards had marginally the better of their rugged opponents in muddy playing conditions rarely encountered in recent seasons. Front-rowers Glenn Hall and Charles Tonga led the way with full-blooded charges and some clever off-loads, while hooker Heath L?Estrange made a lot of valuable ground from dummy half including an excellent scampering first ?half try. Backrower Grant Millington was voted the players? player on the day and other forwards who impressed were Adam Schubert and Mitch Aubusson.
Halfback Jamie Soward was the game?s standout player with three tries and five goals, a good kicking game and clever ball distribution in the difficult conditions underfoot. Centre Lelea Paea, winger Troy Malcolm and fullback Aidan Kirk were the best of the other backs. Daniel Dumas played a valuable utility role and put on some of his now customary crunching hits.
In the curtain-raiser at Henson Park on Saturday, Newtown?s Jim Beam Cup team turned in a very disappointing display when they dropped two valuable premiership points in going down 30-22 to competition tail-enders Belrose. The visitors grabbed two early tries and maintained the whip-hand in the particularly slushy playing conditions that prevailed in the early part of the afternoon.
Belrose led 22-16 at half-time and despite fighting back to trail by 26-22 late in the second half, the Jets simply didn?t play well enough and made too many fundamental errors to deserve to win the game. The Jets now face a tough assignment against the Sydney Bulls in a deferred Jim Beam Cup competition match this Tuesday night (8th August) at Henson Park with this match due to start at 7.00pm.
Newtown plays away in both grades next weekend. In the Jim Beam Cup competition the Jets will face up to the Sydney Bulls for the second time in five days when they travel to the Crest Stadium on Saturday (August 12th) for a 4.30pm kick-off.
In the VB Premier League, the Jets take on the St. Marys-Penrith Cougars at the Western Weekender Stadium also on Saturday (August 12th) with this match timed for a 2.00pm kick-off.
Newtown Jets hooker Heath L?Estrange (with ball) was in top form in the tough going at Henson Park on Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Gary Sutherland Photography.