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Saturday, 5 February 2011, 6.00pm
About this special game
Jets and the Rabbitohs turn up the heat at Redfern
A contest for the Rayner-Farrell Trophy
It is fitting that the two teams will contest a trophy that takes its name from two club legends - South Sydney's Jack Rayner and Newtown's own Frank 'Bumper' Farrell.
The inaugural Jack Rayner-Bumper Farrell Challenge Cup match was notable for the searing heat, a high penalty count, and what proved to be a spirited contest between two of Rugby League's foundation clubs, the Newtown Jets and the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Souths won the low-scoring match by 10-4, after having led 4-0 at half-time.
The Newtown coaching staff would have taken a number of positive soundings from this game, given that no less than 20 of the 24 players who turned out for the Jets were on debut for the club, and that several of these young triallists were recent graduates from the national under 20's competition, the Toyota Cup.
The willing performances by both teams appeared to defy the stifling conditions, with the temperature gauge hovering at a hellish 41 degrees when the match kicked off at 6pm.
2011 promised referee crackdown
Referees Sutton and Munro were determined to enforce a stricter interpretation of the play the ball rule, with the Rabbitohs receiving 16 penalties to Newtown's 9. The Jets turned over a lot of ball and had a low completion rate, ensuring that Souths had the majority of possession in the game's first three quarters. The Rabbitohs could well have run up a comfortable lead had they capitalised on all of their scoring opportunities in the first 60 minutes.
Newtown scrambled well in defence and showed a lot of old-fashioned determination in defending their line for extended spells, despite the rustiness usually associated with the season's first trial game and the abominable playing conditions.
Souths scored their first try in the opening quarter and their second midway through the third session of play. Both of the Rabbitohs' tries came from kicks, whereas Newtown's sole try to winger Sione Taka virtually on three-quarter time came on the end of some well-crafted ball movement.
Newtown's coaching staff gave special mention to lock Boyd Strickland and centre Francis Vaiotu in their post-match deliberations, and also noted the strong displays from front-rowers Khalid Deeb and Francis Tuigamala, as well as the two hookers Jamie Clark and Scott Jones.
Newtown's best quarter of the match was the fourth, as the Jets spun the ball around confidently and looked like salvaging a draw in front of the partisan Redfern Oval crowd. An old-style melee late in the game at the Phillip Street end of the ground lent an authentically retro touch to this clash between the two old inner-city rivals.
Newtown Jets 4 [Sione Taka try]
Officials: Referees, Gerard Sutton, Dave Munro; Touch judges, Adam Gee, Gavin West.
Newtown team sheet
Greg Matterson (now in his fourth year as Newtown RLFC NSW Cup coach).
Fierce Rivals... Good Neighbours...
The Newtown and South Sydney Rugby League clubs are two of Australia's foundation Rugby League clubs and both are integral parts of the cultural and social fabric that makes up Sydney's history.
These two Foundation Clubs share a great tradition of inner-city rivalry and there have been some tremendous clashes over the years, including two fiercely-contested Grand Finals in the 1950s.
Both of these clubs have produced many of Rugby League's best known identities and both celebrated their club centenaries in 2008.
And here's a stirring video to whet the appetite!!!
'Lost' grand final ball finds its way home to Redfern
At the final whistle of the 1955 rugby league grand final, 14-year-old ball boy, Ted Thompson, ran on to the field to snatch the match ball.
Fifty-five years later, Thompson will return his souvenir at tomorrow's match between those two finalists, the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Newtown Jets.
The lifelong Jets fan had been patiently waiting for his beloved Bluebags to rejoin the NRL before returning the match ball. "All these years I've said, 'I'll give it back if Newtown gets back in the comp,'" Thompson said. "But when that never happened I thought, 'This ball doesn't belong to me, it belongs to Souths."
Since being instructed by the late Newtown Jets fullback, Gordon Clifford, to pinch the match ball, Thompson has never given it a kick. The last boot to hit it was that of Clifford, who missed a conversion attempt on full-time as Newtown lost 12-11.
Now approaching 70 and with the ball in near pristine condition, Thompson believes it is time to hand it over. "You know when you get to that time in your life when you have to do something." he said. "Well, that's how I feel. I got it for nothing so it goes back to Souths for nothing. In return … all I want is a plaque saying it was donated by me - this is something from my heart, not from my head."
The ball will be presented before the main game at Redfern Oval.