Panthers take the points but Manfred steals the show [54-18]
Round 24 - Saturday, 25 August, 3.00 pm
Penrith defeated Newtown 54-18 in the Jets' final VB Premier League competition match for 2007, played at Henson Park on Saturday afternoon.
Newtown fielded a very young team against a big, fast Panthers side with plenty of NRL experience, including former Test prop Joel Clinton. Penrith ran up a commanding 30-12 halftime lead and maintained their dominance in the second half.
Manfred Moore - a very special visitor
The real star of the afternoon (which doubled as Newtown's annual players and supporters reunion day) was the charismatic former NFL professional footballer Manfred Moore, who has fulfilled a busy round of functions and media engagements in his short stay in Sydney.
Moore greatly enjoyed his nostalgic return to Henson Park after an absence of thirty years and he formed a great rapport with the young Newtown squad when he spoke with them in the dressing rooms.
Moore proudly wears his 1977 Super Bowl XI winners' ring, an honour he achieved with the famous Oakland Raiders franchise in 1977 just prior to his short stint with the Newtown Jets early in the NSW Rugby League premiership competition of that same year.
Panthers surge to a huge early lead
Penrith seized control of this reunion day match with three converted tries in five minutes early in the first half, and laid on four more converted tries in quick succession midway through the second half. The lopsided final score-line was an indication of the fact that the Panthers are likely to enter the 2007 VB Premier League finals series as premiership favourites.
Injuries reduce Jets ability to strike back
The Jets had lost resourceful centre Troy Savage early in the first half with a neck injury and Newtown had the further disadvantage of only having two men on the interchange bench for a considerable part of the game.
Referee Gavin Badger didn't assist the Jets' cause with a string of penalties that gave the Panthers plenty of territorial impetus.
No lack of defence from Jets - Adam Schubert, Grant Millington and Tom Symonds
Despite opposition strength, Jets forwards stood tall
Grant Millington, Mickey Paea and Steve Meredith were Newtown's best forwards and they received good back-up from George Ndaira, Danny Williams, Adam Schubert and young Martin Kennedy, promoted up from the Roosters SG Ball squad.
Kennedy is a fine prospect and is an Australian Schoolboys representative. He gave the Henson Park crowd a glimpse of his future with the Roosters when he a off-loaded a slick pass to send Steve Meredith in unopposed for Newtown's only second half try.
Two other fine Roosters prospects, Tom Symonds and Rhys Pritchard, were two of Newtown's best backs on Saturday.
Grant Millington was the winner of the Alberto's Pizzeria Restaurant players' player award.
Local member, Carmel Tebbutt, signals dramatic improvements to Henson Park
Another highlight of the afternoon was the presentation by popular State MP for Marrickville Carmel Tebbutt of a cheque for $250,000 for ground resurfacing, new irrigations systems implementation plus the installation of storm-water harvesting infrastructure.
This announcement was honouring the unequivocal commitment made by Ms Tebbutt back on the 17th March when the State Government declared it would assist with the upgrading of Henson Park as a regional sporting venue in line with the Newtown club's approaching centenary year in 2008. This major project will be undertaken in conjunction with Marrickville Council.
And now to next year...
The Newtown Jets have a bye in Round 25
The 2008 Rugby League season now lies straight ahead for the Newtown Jets. It will be a year of great symbolism as the oldest club in the thirteen-a-side code in Australia enters its centenary year. It is also a year of uncharted challenge as the NSW Rugby League enters the brave new world of the restructured senior-level competition that lies beyond the VB Premier League.
Craig Trindall 3, Chris Ward 2, Geoff Daniela, Brett Firman, Brendan Worth, Junior Moors, Sam McKendry tries;
Craig Trindall 5, Matthew Forwood 2 goals
Grant Millington, Aaron Lai, Steve Meredith tries;
George Ndaira 3 goals.
Penrith led 30-12.