Tigers hold out Jets in thrilling local derby finish [30-32]
Newtown's run of agonisingly close defeats continued with the Jets' 32-30 loss to the Balmain Tigers in the VB Premier League match played at Leichhardt Oval on Monday evening.
The game was locked up at 12-all at halftime in a match that was of vital importance for both clubs – the Tigers were in hot pursuit of a place in the competition's top four while for the Jets the outcome almost certainly represented their last throw of the dice for a 2007 finals berth.
Newtown showed their competitive credentials when the Jets defended their own line for a gruelling six consecutive sets just prior to halftime.
Second half comeback not good enough
The second half was one of contrasting fortunes, with the Jets jumping out to an early 18-12 lead.
Balmain took control of the match midway through the second half as their classy young halves carved up the tiring Newtown defence, with the Tigers opening up what looked to be a match-winning 32-18 lead.
In keeping with the fierce tribalism of the century of local derbies between these two old traditional rivals, the Jets fought back to trail 32-30 with ten minutes remaining but couldn't quite bridge the Tigers' narrow lead before fulltime.
Forwards Grant Millington and Mickey Paea and backs Vince Mellars and Shaun Kenny-Dowall were Newtown's best on the night.
Despite the narrow loss, the Newtown Jets retained the Trevor Ryan-Neil Pringle Shield (contested annually between the Newtown and Balmain clubs) on a cumulative points for and against basis.
Newtown's players' player award was won by Grant Millington.
The Newtown Jets are back at Henson Park this Saturday (August 4th) when they confront the very much in-form Auckland Lions in a trans-Tasman VB Premier League match at 3.00pm.
Newtown 30 - Balmain 32
Newtown Jets - 5 tries, 5 goals
Balmain Tigers - 6 tries, 4 goals
Newtown point scorers
Tries to Shaun Foley, Vince Mellars, Grant Millington, George Ndaira and Frank-Paul Nuuausala
Shaun Foley 5 goals.
Playing surface: Very Good.
Weather: Fine, cold, light breeze.
Referee: Phil Haines.