2.00 pm, Saturday, 28 June
The Crest Stadium, Carysfield Rd, Bass Hill
NSW Cup ladder [end of last round]
Newtown retrieved a valuable competition point through a 19-all draw with the Bulldogs in the VB NSW Cup match played at The Crest Stadium on Saturday.
A fitting farewell from a young player who has served Newtown well
Luke Millwood secures the draw with a field goal.
Thank you, Luke, and farewell.
The Bulldogs had taken the lead for the first time in the match with a 78th minute field goal, but the Jets snatched back a last-minute draw when five-eighth Luke Millwood snapped a drop-goal thirty seconds from fulltime.
The one-pointer was to be Millwood's farewell gift to the Newtown club, as he had accepted an NRL contract offer from the North Queensland Cowboys last Thursday and flew out to Cairns yesterday.
Disruption before and during the match
The Jets went into this match with a recast team list following several call-ups into the State of Origin-depleted Sydney Roosters ranks. Newtown coach Greg Matterson called on two youngsters from the Roosters Toyota Cup squad in Dylan Sharp and Dominique Peyroux to top up the Jets playing numbers.
A strong first half from the Blues
There was further disruption within the Jets ranks when fullback Shaun Foley suffered knee ligaments damage ten minutes into the first half, necessitating a reshuffle of the Newtown backline. Foley's injury is likely to keep him sidelined for at least eight weeks.
Despite this sequence of setbacks, the Jets defended well for most of the first half and took most of their scoring opportunities, with debutant hooker Tyrone Shelley (ex-Manly-Warringah) ducking in for two dummy-half tries, both of which were converted by halfback Ben Green.
Newtown led 12-4 at the break and might well have taken a bigger lead but for missed opportunities. New centre signing Damon Alley-Tovio (formerly with Souths, the Raiders and the Bulldogs) looked to be a likely customer in the first half when the Jets had more ball to work with.
Second half started well but Jets lost ground
The Jets increased their lead to 18-4 with a try to winger Tevita Folau ten minutes into the second half.
From that juncture onwards the Bulldogs dominated possession and territory and remorselessly ground their way back into the game. The bigger Canterbury pack had the Jets back-pedalling and Newtown's defensive line was repeatedly stretched on the fringes and in the middle third.
The Bulldogs had a wealth of possession in the last twenty minutes and there was a sense of inevitability that the match would go down to the wire. Repeat sets to the 'Dogs and Newtown's inability to claw back field position saw Canterbury score three tries in the last fifteen minutes to draw level at 18-all.
Their 78th minute field goal seemed to be the coup de grace for Newtown but several desperate drives by the Jets forwards gave Millwood the required field position, and while his field goal was a rather dusty-looking effort it was worth that crucial one point just the same.
Prop Steve Meredith was Newtown's best forward for the second successive week. He virtually took on the Bulldogs pack single-handedly on occasions and received a terrible battering in the process.
Steve was well supported by fellow packmen Ray Moujalli, Jimmy Andersen and Rory Kostjasyn. Plucky five-eighth Luke Millwood left the Newtown club on a high note and other backs to play well were Toshio Laiseni and Byron Ford.
The admirable Sean Rudder accepted his coach's clarion call and backed up after having debuted for the Roosters on the Friday night.
The Jets have a split-round bye this weekend and are then back at Henson Park, 3.00 pm, Saturday, 12 July to take on Cronulla-Sutherland.
Newtown 19 - 3 tries, 3 goals, 1 field goal
Bulldogs 19 - 4 tries, 1 goal, 1 field goal
Referee: Luke Potter
Touch judges: Danielle Berry, Brendon Wood
Playing surface: Good.
Weather: Fine, sunny and mild.