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With just three rounds to go in the French Élite 1 competition, the teams of Steve Naughton [Pia], Willie Mataka [Avignon] and Johnathon Ford [Toulouse Olympique] are sure to figure in the finals. Pia are now clear leaders on 40 points, Avignon 3rd on 37 points and TO 5th on 34.
Limoux will probably not recover from their terrible start to the season but are starting to show some form with the return of key players, including Luke Towers, and have reached the semi-finals of the Lord Derby Cup, a national knock-out competition.
Even Brad Barrett's Montpellier, though still low on the ladder are earning positive reviews in the French rugby league press.
Hopefully the season will end well for them all our former Jets!
Johnathon Ford's Toulouse team had their match postponed last weekend, Steve Naughton's Pia had a victory, and Brad Barrett's Montpellier went down to Willie Mataka's Avignon but the real news of the weekend was Luke Towers's performance in the Limoux v Lescure-d'Albigeois match which Limoux won, [52-10] and in which Luke scored 5 first half tries.
"The match started with a bang, for in the first minute, the Limoux fullback Towers scored. Lescure rose to the challenge and scored in their turn.... And then the Towers festival could begin. Author of four further tries, Limouxin Lucky Luke, unleashed everything with a supersonic speed that left the Lescure players standing in their tracks and they didn't deserve that. But today on the Needle Stadium, there was a guy named Luke Towers! With 6 tries at half-time, the carrots were cooked: Limoux led 34-4." Match report - choose the Translate button
Johnathon Ford and Willie Mataka's games were postponed; Luke Towers's Grizzlies played the table leaders and showed they are coming back to form despite their loss, and Brad Barrett's Montpellier continue to struggle near the bottom of the Élite 1 table. Only Avignon's bye saved Steve Naughton from the freezing playing conditions in Europe.
In England, Lopini Paea [Jets 2010], Jason Baitieri [Jets 2010] and Setaimata Sa [Jets 2007] made it onto the pitch against the Bradford Bulls and came away with a resounding victory. Jason scored a try and continues to enjoy great success in his 'native' France.
Limoux [Luke Towers's Grizzlies] is back in the winners' list with a victory over Villeneuve and in the clash between Pia [Steve Naughton's Donkeys] and Toulouse Olympique [Johnno Ford's team], Pia came out on top. Willie Mataka's Avignon defeated top-of-the-table Lézignan and Brad Barrett's Montpellier had the bye.
Steve, Willie and Johnathon are enjoying a very successful season - Pia [2nd], Avignon [4th] and Toulouse [5th] - with the top 5 teams out in front of the pack, being 7 clear of the 6th place Catalan feeder club.
Brad suffered serious concussion in the game against Lézignan and was required to sit on the sidelines for two weeks. Montpellier has a bye this weekend so his first game back will be against the feeder team for Jason Baitieri and Lopini Paea's Catalan Dragons in Round 16, 11-12 February.
Brad reports that his team has a lot of young players who are struggling to deliver the intensity required in the Élite 1 competition. However, Newtown staff and supporters would expect them to raise their standard over the season if they can follow Brad's example in preparing and playing.
Brad reports that he sees "the boys around a bit they seem to be loving it". What an experience for these young players!
The results of the 14th round of the Élite 1 competition are positive for Johnno, Steve and Willie Mataka who arrived in time to play from the bench and participate in Avignon's strong win over Villeneuve, 46-24.
Johnathon Ford's Toulouse Olympique beat competition leaders, Carcassonne [14-2] in a match that was dominated by defence. Johnno set up the final try in the last minute of the game [Shades of our Newtown Jets!] "when Sébastien Planas put the seal on victory, scoring off a kick pass from the excellent Jonathon Ford." The French journos may still not spell his name correctly but they are certainly noticing Johnathon's skills.
Luke Towers and several other key Limoux players, out with injury, returned in this game and the score was close at half-time but Steve Naughton's Pia extended their 2 point half-time lead to defeat the Grizzlies, 36-20, and Brad Barrett's Montpellier would be disappointed at their defeat at the hands of bottom-of-the-table Lescure-d'Albigeois.
View results of the 14ème journée - 21-22 JANVIER 2012.
Two of our ex-Newtown players are enjoying good fortune in this season's Élite 1 competition. Steve Naughton's Pia Donkeys and Johnno Ford's Toulouse Olympique are holding their positions near the top of the ladder in 3rd and 5th positions respectively.
Alas for Luke Towers's Limoux Grizzlies and Brad Barrett's Montpellier Devils - they are languishing near the bottom of the ladder with only two wins each. Luke Towers still seems to be sidelined with injury.
In the last round, 7-8 January, Pia had a huge win [52-6] over Avignon, the team Willie Mataka is about to join and the former team of our 2011 halfback, Blake Lazarus, but Limoux, TO and Montpellier all lost in close games.
The next Élite 1 round is this weekend - last weekend saw the quarter-finals of the French Lord Derby Cup.
Johnno's Toulouse Olympique played Luke Towers's Limoux Grizzlies [minus Luke] last sunday and came out victorious despite Limoux going in at half-time in the lead, 4-0. In the second half, Toulouse's strong defence was the difference, and "the five-eighth, Ford, kicked well on the last to send the Limouxins back into their 10-metre zone." Toulouse 20 - Limoux 4.
Steve Naughton's Pia scored a strong win over Brad Barrett's Montpellier, 32-4. Steve played in the centres, Brad in the back row, but neither was mentioned in dispatches.
Our former Jets had mixed results in the most recent round of the Élite 1 competition.
Steve Naughton's Pia thrashed their opponents [38-6]; Brad Barrett's Montpellier suffered an ignominious defeat at the hands of Carcassonne [50-0]; and Johnathon Ford's Toulouse Olympique had no answers for Blake Lazarus's old club, Avignon, going down 20-0.
Luke Tower's Limoux had a bye, though Luke is out with injury.
Ten teams contest the Élite 1 competition. Luke and Brad's teams are placed 8th & 9th on the table, and Johnathon and Steve's teams, 4th & 5th.
Brad Barrett's Montpellier had a strong win against Limoux [28-16] but Luke Towers is still missing from the Limoux side through injury. Johnathon Ford's Toulouse Olympique also secured victory, 52-16, against Lescure, the team that has just come up from the lower division to play in the Élite 1 competion.
Steve Naughton's Pia team had the bye.
15 Nov - Johnathon dominates for another TO win!
What a start Johnno has had to his season in France!
"it was a fantastic victory for the Toulousians. After their failure at Carcassonne [14-50, Rd3, before Johnathon joined them], you wouldn't have thought them sufficiently ready for perillous trips away. At the Mill, in the cavern of the champion of France, Lézignan, Gilles Dumas's men showed that their successes against Pia and Villeneuve-sur-Lot weren't accidents. They secured their first victory away 26-16. They even led 26-4. Two players dominated in the end, the five-eighth Johnathon Ford [who will certainly become the darling of the youngsters] and Gregory White who scored a double. Read the report.
Unfortunately, Steve Naughton's Pia scored more tries but failed to convert a single one, losing 21-24 to Carcassonne, and Brad Barrett's Montpellier went down to one of the competition's front runners, Avignon, Blake Lazarus's former team. Luke Towers is still not back on the field but his Grizzlies got back into the winners' list.
9 Nov. French mesmerized by Johnathon's kicking game!
"En ce début de saison, le point fort des Toulousains, c'est le jeu au pied avec l'excellente vision du jeu de l'ouvreur australien Johnathon Ford qui déstablise les défenses par un coup de pied rasant en diagonale. Il avait déjà sévi il y a 2 semaines devant Pia. Et Ford a remis le couvercle samedi soir, en amusant la défense villeneneuvoise (beaucoup trop passive !) lors du premier quart d'heure. Une première fois à droite, une seconde fois à gauche. Cette entame catastrophine, les hommes du président Thiolat l'ont payé au prix fort."
At this early point in the season, the strong point for the Toulousians, is the kicking game and excellent vision of the Australian five-eighth, Johnathon Form who unsettles the defense with sharp angled kicking. He had already prevailed 2 weeks before against Pia. And Ford capped it off on Saturday night, teasing the much too passive Villeneuvian defense in the first 15 minutes. First time to the right, second time to the left. The men of president Thiolat paid a big price for this catastrophic beginning. [In fact, each kick delivered a TO try! And in this report, Johnno's name is spelled correctly!]
6 Nov. Johnno Ford MOM again!
Johnathon must be quickly building a support group over in Toulouse with his team winning their second in a row and he being named Man of the Match for the second time in a row! Let's hope the rewards aren't pizzas over there too - he will come back a rolly polly.
A snippet from the match report - "In less than 10 minutes [from the start of the game], the five-eighth, Jonathon Ford, changed into a decisive passer. Two brilliant kick passes for his wingers plunged the [opposition] into doubt."
Pity the French can't spell Johnathon's name!!!
6 Nov. Jason Baitieri's French team victorious
Exciting times for Jason Baitieri. His dual citizenship has given him another wonderful representative opportunity playing for France at Lock. Read the report of the French victory over the Irish.
Rd4 - 22-23 Oct - Johnno Man of Match
Johnathon Ford is settling in with Toulouse-Olympique and this weekend made his debut in the Élite competition against Steve Naughton's Burros. Johnno had a great game at five-eighth - Man of the match in his first game for TO which also scored its first victory for the season! 22-14
Luke Towers' Grizzlies had a chance to move up the ladder but lost to Villeneuve who are now third on the ladder. Unfortunately, Luke and the other MOM from Rd3 didn't play. Luke injured his shoulder in the game against Pia and is now recuperating from an operation.
Brad's team, Montpellier, have the bye.
Rd3 - 15-16 Oct - Luke shares MOM honours
Luke Towers' Grizzlies took on Steve Naughton's Burros in Rd3. The Grizzlies came out on top after a game that saw the lead swap several times. Steve scored the first try of the match, in his debut with the Burros, and Luke kicked a field goal to add to his 2 tries.
The performances of Luke and a Limoux forward Thackray were signaled out. The match report commented "Towers, le " feu follet " des lignes arrière, a une nouvelle fois montré son talent" = Towers, the will-o'-wisp of the back line, once again showed his talent.
Brad Barrett had his first game with the Montpellier Red Devils against Lézignan who are again dominating the Élite 1 competition in 2011-2012. Brad felt his coach was pleased with his first hit out for Montpellier.
Who's playing and where
The Newtown Rugby League Football Club now has six players pursuing their rugby league careers in the south west of France.
We have four former players competing in the French NSW Cup equivalent, the Élite 1 conmpetition.
Élite 1 competition
The 2011-2012 competition began the weekend of the 24-25 september. Luke was there for the start of the season; Brad joined for Round 3; Johnathon arrived after his time with the Kukis in the Cook Islands so is likely to play his first game with TO in round 4, the weekend 22-23 October. [We are chasing news of Steve but assume he was there for earlier rounds.]