Jets first half blitz overwhelms the Warriors

Newtown Jets front-rower Malakai Houma crashes through the New Zealand Warriors defence at Henson Park last Saturday. Photo: Gary Sutherland Photography

The Newtown Jets staked their claim as one of the form teams of the Intrust Super Premiership with their commanding 38-6 win over the competition leaders, the New Zealand Warriors, at Henson Park on Saturday. Mounties and the Warriors might still be the first and second teams on the competition table, but the Jets are in clear third position one point behind them and with a better points for and against aggregate.

Newtown seized control of Saturday’s game against the Warriors when they raced to a 16-0 lead after as many minutes. The Warriors were admittedly below full strength and turned on an abysmal first half, with a low completion rate and a succession of errors. The Jets made the most of their opportunities with first half tries to Anthony Moraitis, Travis Robinson, Matt Evans and Malakai Houma, with Fa’amanu Brown converting three of the tries and kicking one penalty goal. The Warriors started to put their game together when they posted a converted try close to halftime, with Newtown going into the break with a 24-6 lead.

Coach Greg Matterson stressed to his Jets players not to let the Warriors back into the game in the second half. No doubt he had painful memories of Newtown’s third round encounter with the Warriors over in Auckland, when the Jets had led 18-4 at halftime and were run down by the Warriors in the second half for a 20-18 loss. Matterson put the challenge to his squad to shut the Warriors out of the game and to maintain their first half domination.

The Jets in fact kept their opponents scoreless for the entire second half and added two more tries through Kurt Capewell and Kenny Niko late in the game. Newtown was forced to defend for extended periods but through their discipline and teamwork managed to choke the Warriors out of the game. Coach Matterson praised his players at full-time for their second half effort, saying it was an outstanding performance against a team coming off a seven-game winning streak and who were also the competition leaders.

Newtown’s forwards laid the foundations for this win, subduing one of the competition’s biggest forward packs and winning the battle of the midfield. While the Warriors had some players out, Newtown also had key players unavailable through injury and there were also enforced changes during the game that left Newtown short on the interchange bench. Backrower Kurt Kara was Newtown’s best on the day, and Jesse Sene-Lefao, Matt McIlwrick, Kurt Capewell and Anthony Moraitis were all outstanding in the forwards. Fa’amanu Brown, Josh Cleeland and Mitch Brown were the best of the backs. The coaching staff also extended praise to all the Newtown part-timers who stepped up for this crunch game and ripped right into the challenge of upsetting the league leaders.

Newtown’s next match is against one of the emerging threats in this competition, the Penrith Panthers. This 16th round ISP match is at the St Marys Stadium on Saturday, 25th June at 3.00pm. The Jets next home game will be against the Illawarra Cutters at Henson Park on Friday, 1st July at 7.00pm.