The Newtown Jets scored their first win in the 2002 NSWRL First Division competition, in defeating the Central Coast Bears 36-24 at Northpower Stadium on Friday night. The Jets gave their travelling supporters plenty of anxious moments before securing victory in the final five minutes of play.
The Bears were first on the board with a converted try in the eighth minute, but the Jets then took the lead following tries to winger John Wilson and five-eight Taffy Nicolas. Wilson showed excellent evasive skills in outfoxing several defenders to cross in the corner, and Nicolas backed up a powerful surge by Tere Glassie. The Bears regained the lead by 12-10 at the twenty-five minute mark, only for Wes Patten to dart in next to the posts just before halftime after clever approach work by Simon Crotty. Alf Duncan's second conversion allowed Newtown to go to the break leading by 16-12.
Quick hands across the Jets backline saw John Wilson notch his second try, for Newtown to extend its lead to 20-12 four minutes into the second half. The Jets worst period of the game followed, enabling the Bears to fight back with converted tries in quick succession to regain the lead 24-20 with eighteen minutes to play. The Newtown defence rallied when most needed, withstanding sustained Central Coast attacking pressure in their own quarter when a further try might have been the clincher for the Bears.
In complete contrast to the bitter disappointment of last week's Manly-Warringah match, Newtown stormed home to win in the last fifteen minutes. Tarei McKenzie broke through for the equaliser on the end of another slick Jets backline raid, and quality leadup work by Wes Patten and Steve Skinnon put hooker Chris Williams over under the posts with ten minutes to go. Newtown 30-24. With three minutes to play, winger turned front rower Steve Skinnon scooped up a loose Bears pass and posted Newtown's final try for the night, which he followed up with a flamboyant display of on-field acrobatics.
Newtown's best forwards were Aaron Trinder, Jason Buchanan, Luke Wardle, Steve Skinnon, Chris Williams and Tere Glassie (30 tackles). Wes Patten, Dave Lambert and John Wilson were the best of the Jets backline.
Newtown well and truly hit the wall in their Metro Cup match at Ringrose Park on Saturday afternoon. After strong displays over the previous three weekends, the Jets high mistake rate and threadbare defence attracted ruthless punishment from Wentworthville, with the Magpies racing away to a 54-10 cakewalk.
The Jets take on St. George-Illawarra in the First Division at Aussie Stadium next Sunday, May 26 at 1.10 pm. There is a general bye in the Metro Cup competition this coming weekend. For all Jets news and inquiries, call the Newtown RLFC information line on 1300 36 36 90.