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The Sydney Airport Jets were pushed back into fifth place on the VB Premier League competition table, following their 32-20 loss to the Newcastle Knights at Energy Australia Stadium on Saturday evening. In the Jim Beam Cup, Newtown qualified for the semi-final series after defeating Erina 28-12 on Saturday afternoon, and then surviving an attempt by their nearest rivals Cabramatta to surpass the Jets? for and against record.
In the match at Newcastle, the Jets and Knights were locked up at 12-all at half-time. Newtown scored twice in the first ten minutes of the second half to lead by 20-12, but Newcastle took control of the remainder of the game. Playing for their own semi-final place in front of a large and fiercely partisan home crowd, the Knights capitalised on every Newtown error and on the Jets? fragile marker defence. This was a night when Newtown?s worst deficiencies (such as a chronically poor kicking game) were exposed and any errors were summarily punished.
The Jets were best served in the forwards by Cameron Ciraldo, James Stosic and Keith Galloway. John Sinisa had an excellent winger?s game, saving one try and setting up another for centre Dane Nielsen. Nathan Merritt and Ryan McGoldrick did all they could to retrieve this result for Newtown.
In the crucial Jim Beam Cup match played on the Central Coast on Saturday afternoon, Newtown and Erina were tied up at 6-all at half-time. The Jets pulled away to a 28-12 win, and then had to sweat it out until Sunday, while waiting on the result of the Cabramatta-Asquith match at North Sydney Oval. Cabramatta won this game to draw level with the Jets on the points table, but their winning margin was insufficient to overhaul Newtown?s superior points for and against ratio. Laurie Bamblett and the ever-reliable Rimini Reweti were Newtown?s best forwards in the Erina match, with Hamilton Hughes and Ryan Dickson the best of the backline division.
Next Saturday (September 3rd) is the annual Newtown RLFC players and supporters reunion day at Henson Park, with the Jets up against South Sydney in a VB Premier League local derby. Newtown must beat the Rabbitohs and then depend on the Raiders disposing of Manly-Warringah at Canberra Stadium next Saturday evening, in order for the Jets to reclaim the vital fourth place on the premiership table. The Newtown-Souths match kicks off at 3.00pm, preceded by the Women?s Rugby League preliminary final at 1.30pm. Newtown takes on Wentworthville in the Jim Beam Cup elimination semi-final at Windsor next Saturday afternoon, with this match due to start at 1.30pm.
Photo courtesy of Don McCririck, Hannan Photography. Newtown centre Ryan McGoldrick (left) and second rower Keith Galloway pictured in the thick of the action against the Newcastle Knights at Energy Australia Stadium on Saturday evening.