In their 110th year as a rugby league club, the Newtown Jets have eliminated Penrith Panthers from the 2018 Intrust Super Premiership title race. The Jets defeated Penrith 28-24 in the hard-fought preliminary final played at Leichhardt Oval last Saturday afternoon. They now move forward to take on Canterbury-Bankstown in the ISP NSW grand final at Leichhardt Oval next Sunday, 23rd September. Newtown led Penrith 16-12 at halftime and 28-18 with 17 minutes left to play, and then had to defend desperately in the last 15 minutes against a Panthers team hell-bent on winning two premiership titles in a row.
The match was played in unusually warm conditions and the Jets looked less than convincing in the opening twenty minutes. Front-rower Kurt Dillon was assisted from the field midway through the first half which left Newtown to contend with a three-man bench for the remainder of the game.
Penrith opened the scoring with a converted try in the 15th minute, but Newtown responded ten minutes later when winger Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga dived over for a try in the south-eastern corner which was converted from the sideline by halfback Kyle Flanagan. The Panthers regained the lead with a converted try in the 30th minute, but the Jets hit back hard through tries to fullback Will Kennedy and centre Reubenn Rennie with Flanagan adding another conversion.
The second half began badly for Newtown with the Panthers scoring a converted try after four minutes to reclaim the lead by 18-16. The Jets replied quickly through hooker Blayke Brailey who sent second-rower Briton Nikora racing over at the northern end, with Flanagan’s conversion putting Newtown back in front 22-18. Nikora scored again in the 61st minute when he pounced on a perfectly-directed grubber kick from Flanagan. The halfback’s conversion extended Newtown’s lead to 28-18.
The Panthers were back in contention through a converted try fifteen minutes out from fulltime. Penrith had two tries disallowed in the second half but the general consensus was that the referee had made the right call on each occasion. The Panthers also had a first half try disallowed because of a forward pass. The overwhelmingly pro-Newtown crowd roared the Jets home in the thrilling latter stages of the second half, with the Newtown players grimly defending their line as the fulltime siren sounded.
The Newtown Jets will now play the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the 2018 NSWRL Intrust Super Premiership grand final at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, 23rd September at 3.10pm.
NSWRL Intrust Super Premiership NSW – Preliminary Final
Saturday, 15th September 2018
Penrith (Minor Premiers and the defending 2017 Premiers) versus Newtown (3rd place)
Briton Nikora 2, Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga, Will Kennedy, Reubenn Rennie tries;
Kyle Flanagan 4 conversions
Liam Martin, Liam Coleman, Reed Izzard, Adam Keighran tries;
Adam Keighran 4 conversions.
Halftime: Newtown led 16-12.
Newtown’s team was:
Will Kennedy, Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga, Aaron Gray, Reubenn Rennie, Sione Katoa, Jack a. Williams, Kyle Flanagan, Kurt Dillon, Blayke Brailey, Ava Seumanufagai, Briton Nikora, Anthony Moraitis (Capt), Jaimin Jolliffe.
Interchange: Billy Magoulias, Braden Uele, Wesley Lolo, Malakai Houma.
Coach: Greg Matterson.
Caleb Aikens, Ratu Tuisese, Tyrone Phillips, Brian Too, Sam Smith, Adam Keighran, Liam Coleman, Kaide Ellis (Capt), Wayde Egan, Andy Saunders, Billy Burns, Jack Hetherington, Liam martin.
Interchange: Jed Cartwright, Nick Lui-Toso, Paea Pua, Reed Izzard.
Coach: Guy Missio.
Referee: Adam Cassidy.
Assistant referee: Drew Oultram.
Touch Judges: John Woods and Cameron Mitchell.
The playing surface at Leichhardt Oval was excellent.
Weather: Abnormally warm, 32 degrees Celsius, slight southerly breeze.
Newtown kicked off with Penrith running to the northern end.
The match was televised live by Channel Nine.
It was broadcast live by Steele Sports; HAWK 89.9FM; SWR 99.9FM; 2HHH 100.1FM.
Grand Final Details:
NSWRL Intrust Super Premiership NSW – Grand Final
Sunday, 23rd September 2018
Newtown v Canterbury-Bankstown