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The Sydney Airport Jets made it a popular double with wins in both grades in front of a partisan crowd at Henson Park on Saturday. In the VB Premier League main game, Newtown turned around an 18-10 half-time deficit against the Roosters to stage a thrilling 25-18 victory, while in the Jim Beam Cup curtain-raiser the Jets trailed The Entrance by 14-0 after only 15 minutes and looked to be gone for all money. Instead the young Jets dug deep and decided to rewrite the script by powering home for a memorable 34-14 win.
Newtown?s win over the highly rated Roosters was another solid team performance, but one that looked decidedly shaky when the Jets conceded three tries to the visitors in a ten-minute period just prior to half-time. Newtown fought back to regain the lead by 20-18 with less than 15 minutes remaining, and added a further try and a well-struck field goal in a gripping finish that kept the big crowd spellbound. The win maintained Newtown?s unbeaten record in VB Premier League games at Henson Park this season.
This was an impressive performance, given that Newtown?s forward pack had undergone several changes from the previous week?s narrow win against the Dragons. Luke Harlen, Cameron Ciraldo, Kevin Kingston and Tommy Gemmell were among Newtown?s best forwards, while Sam Isemonger added steel to the pack through his 36 tackles and his superb off-load for Nathan Merritt?s vital second try 14 minutes out from full-time.
The Jets? halves combination of David Hall and Russell Aitken had one of their best games of the season, and the mercurial Merritt added two tries and three conversions to his soaring points tally. Beau Scott and Vince Mellars made powerful charges at critical moments and winger Frank Samia made valuable ground-gaining runs from inside his own half.
Newtown?s Jim Beam Cup team trailed by 14-0 early in the game, but hit back with two converted tries to be within two points of The Entrance by half-time. The Jets took control in the second half and added four unanswered tries against a team that has been in the last two Jim Beam Cup Grand Finals. Once again this young Newtown team showed that their collective fitness, strength and disciplined play can take them a long way in this competition.
David Buckley led Newtown?s forwards from the front and turned on an outstanding display. He was well supported by Kiel Roberts, Rimini Reweti and crowd favourite Jardine Bobongie. Daniel Morris and Glenn Sedwell impressed again in the backs, and special credit to Sasho Stosic for his determined fightback from a serious leg injury suffered back in February.
In the Sydney Women?s Rugby League competition, the Newtown Jetettes competed well against the strong Redfern All Blacks team but were overpowered by the premiership favourites by 38-4.
Newtown?s associate club Parkes up in Group 11 had a strong away win over the Cobar Roosters by 40-28, and now stand alone as the first grade competition leaders.
Both Newtown teams play away this weekend, with the VB Premier League team travelling to Canberra Stadium on Saturday (June 25th) where they take on the Raiders at 3.30pm, in the main curtain-raiser to the Raiders-Cowboys NRL fixture. In the Jim Beam Cup, Newtown plays Belrose at the Lionel Watts Reserve on Friday (June 24th) at 7.30pm.