3.00 pm, Saturday, 9 August
NSW Cup ladder [end of last round]
A lot at stake
The Newtown Jets claimed two badly-needed competition points when they defeated the Central Coast storm 22-20 in the VB NSW Cup match played at Henson Park on Saturday.
Both teams came into this match with plenty of incentive - the Jets were battling to stay in fourth place while the Storm (Melbourne's feeder club) were fighting to remain in the competition's top eight.
Tense struggle in first half
The two teams were locked up at 10-all at halftime and 14-all midway through the second half.
The Jets looked to be faltering when they trailed 20-14 with only 12 minutes remaining but they staged a thrilling fightback in the last ten minutes to snatch a thrilling victory.
Newtown broke away to an early 10-0 lead with tries to five-eighth Ben Jones (making his NSW Cup debut for 2008) and second-rower Sean Rudder. The Storm fought back into the contest and had drawn level by halftime.
Jets fall behind in the second half
The Central Coasters took the lead for the first time ten minutes into the second half but Newtown equalised through the sprightly-stepping Donny Thompson after the Jets had an extended spell of possession in the Storm's twenty-metre zone.
Things looked ominous for the Jets when the Storm exploited Newtown's being a man down on their right-side backline defence and scored what looked likely to be the deciding try.
Stanley Waqa led the way
The Jets responded to the home crowd's barracking and bench forward Stanley Waqa gained Henson Park cult status when he plunged over next to the northern end goal posts. Ben Green's conversion made it 20-all with 7 minutes to play.
The hard-running Waqa made a barnstorming run deep into the Storm's territory where a ruck indiscretion presented Newtown with a penalty right in front of the posts. Green made no mistake with the penalty goal as the Henson Park Hill Mob went into a frenzy.
Newtown's forwards stayed the pace with a physically strong Storm pack that contained plenty of NRL experience.
The Jets were best served in the forwards department by players' player award winner Hep Cahill, Sean Rudder, Daniel Green and team captain Steve Meredith.
Stanley Waqa's dramatic impact late in the game will become part of Henson Park folklore. Centre Brent Grose provided stability and class in the backs and Danny Howard coped well with his unaccustomed role in the centres.
The Newtown Jets are back again at Henson Park this coming Saturday, 16 August, when they confront the new competition leaders Wentworthville, Parramatta's feeder club in the VB NSW Cup. This match is timed to kick off at 3.00pm.
Round 3 away
4 tries, 3 goals
4 tries, 2 goals
Weather: Mild, sunny.
Playing surface: Excellent.
Referee: Luke Potter
Touch Judges: Matt Hawkins, Matt Damaso