Jets snatch a late draw against the Dragons [32-32]
Heart-stopper to celebrate St Patrick's Day at Henson
Three great positives to start the 2007 season
St. Patrick’s Day 2007 was certainly a good news day for the Newtown Jets club.
In their opening round VB Premier League match against St George-Illawarra, the Jets grabbed a last-minute 32-all draw after having trailed the Dragons 22-0 in the first half.
In other major news, Marrickville MP and NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt announced at half-time to the very receptive crowd that the Iemma Labor Government would be making a $250,000 grant towards the resurfacing of Henson Park and the installation of a storm-water catchment irrigation system, measures which will greatly improve the quality and durability of the playing surface.
Finally, there was the emotional return to Henson Park on Saturday of one of the club’s favourite sons, former Kangaroo centre Brian “Chicka” Moore, who had suffered a near-fatal heart attack just prior to Xmas.
Overwhelmed in a dismal first half
On the Rugby League playing front, Newtown looked and played like triallists for most of a dismal first half in which the Dragons had the greater share of possession and more momentum.
St George punished Newtown’s fragile defence and poor ball control by running up a 22-0 lead after 30 minutes, but the Jets struck back with two late converted tries to go in at the break trailing by 22-12.
Second half turn-around through strong defence and creative play
The Dragons looked to have regained control of the match when they added another converted try early in the second half. Time looked to be running out for Newtown as the Jets lost possession in favourable field position on more than one occasion and failed to take best advantage of a splendid 40/20 kick by five-eighth Jamie Soward.
Newtown’s much-improved second half performance and persistence eventually paid off when they posted converted tries in the 20th, 25th and 29th minutes, taking the lead for the first time in the match with barely ten minutes of play remaining.
All seemed lost when the Dragons regained the lead five minutes from full-time when the Jets failed to nullify a St George midfield chip and chase effort.
Draw with seconds to spare
In a textbook thrilling finish, Jets five-eighth Soward and fullback Shaun Foley turned on a clever set move that brought play well into the Dragons territory.
St George incurred a last minute penalty from which the ice-cool Soward slotted over the penalty goal to tie the scores up at 32-all.
Jets coach Paul Young pointed out that this match was in effect the first game together for this particular combination of players and that there were plenty of positive features to work from in the coming rounds.
Newtown’s best backs were five-eighth Jamie Soward - the players' player award winner - halfback Mitchell Pearce and fullback Shaun Foley, while the best forwards were prop Shane Shackleton, hooker Heath L’Estrange and the indefatigable second-rower Danny Williams.