Jets show admirable valour but Auckland claims the spoils [16-19]
Jets V Lions, Saturday, 4th August 2007
The Newtown Jets VB Premier League team showed plenty of courage and endeavour in the match against the Auckland Lions at Henson Park on Saturday afternoon, but the Lions out-finessed the Jets to win a tough, gruelling game by 19-16.
The Aucklanders had led by 8-6 at halftime and although they never opened up a big lead at any stage, they always seemed to have a slight edge in skill and plenty of territorial advantage over the Jets.
Lions take initiative in first half
A Grant Millington - Dale Newton sandwich special
The Lions did most of the attacking in the first half and had looked more capable when in possession.
Newtown defended strongly in their own quarter for extended periods and scored their only first-half try when centre
Troy Savage snapped up a loose pass and sprinted 80 metres to score two minutes before halftime.
Lions maintain ascendency despite Jets commitment
Auckland scored early in the second half but Newtown was back in the game when halfback
Rory Kostjasyn dummied and drove hard through the Lions' defence in the 52nd minute.
Auckland replied almost immediately by way of a well-placed kick into the north-eastern corner that was pounced on by the speedy Lions winger.
The Lions defended that 18-12 lead for a considerable period of the second half, with Newtown's limited kicking game and lack of backline strike power ensuring that they rarely threatened at the Lions end of the ground.
Auckland virtually sealed the match through a well-struck field goal ten minutes out from fulltime, with Jets backrower
Mickey Paea claiming Newtown's third try right on the final siren.
Steve Meredith and Frank-Paul Nuuausala tackle Aidan Kirk
Forwards led the way in team performances
Mickey Paea and Frank-Paul Nuuausala were the Jets' best forwards and young backrower
Anthony Cherrington continued to impress.
All the Jets forwards grafted hard in battering their way into the Lions territory but poor kicking options reduced Newtown's chances of exerting and maintaining any pressure in Auckland's quarter.
Jets hooker George Ndaira was hampered by a leg injury and his trademark dummy-half dashes were missed.
Roosters Jersey Flegg centre Ben Jones made a strong Premier League debut and impressed with his resolute defence, while stand-in five-eighth
Grant Millington was always trying to be creative with the ball.
Centre Troy Savage and winger Vince Mellars ran with real determination when in possession. Fullback and goal-kicker
Shaun Foley may have suffered an ankle fracture and could be in doubt for the final competition rounds.
Players' player & acknowledgements
Prop Frank-Paul Nuuausala was the Alberto's Pizzeria Restaurant Players' Player award winner on Saturday, and the Newtown club
wishes to thank Andrew Hewlett and his staff at the Golden Barley Hotel, Edgeware Road, Enmore for the generosity of their hospitality shown to both teams at the after-match function.
Auckland Lions 19
Lui Toimoana, Patrick Ah Van, Todd Byrne, Sonny Fai tries; Tony Martin 1 goal, Steve Buckingham 1 field goal
Newtown Jets 16
Troy Savage, Rory Kostjasyn, Mickey Paea tries, Shaun Foley 2 goals.
Half-Time: Auckland Lions led 8-6.
Playing surface: Good
Weather: Fine, sunny, cold, light southerly breeze.
Referee: Gavin Reynolds.
The Newtown Jets are back again at Henson Park next Saturday afternoon (11th August) against fellow 1908 foundation club the Western Suburbs Magpies. This match has the slightly later kick-off time of 3.30pm and will decide the winner of the Tom Raudonikis Cup for 2007.