1.30 pm, Saturday, 29 March
Morrie Breen Oval, Wyong
Newtown 28 defeated Central Coast Storm 16
Half-Time: Newtown led by 24-6.
Bright sunshine, slight breeze.
Ground conditions: Excellent.
Referee: Robert Bowen
Touch Judges: Richard Daizli, Ricky McFarlane.
Newtown defeated the NSWRL second-tier newcomers the Central Coast Storm 28-16 in the VB NSW Cup fixture played at Wyong on Saturday afternoon.
As the name implies, the Central Coast club is the official feeder team to the defending NRL premiers the Melbourne Storm and there were several Bleak City squad members in their ranks on Saturday.
The Jets led 24-6 at half-time but turned in a mediocre second half display that will have Newtown coach Greg Matterson cracking the whip at training sessions this week.
Exciting first half
The Jets ran up an 18-0 lead after twenty minutes with lively hooker Luke Gordon claiming two tries and second-rower Mickey Paea tearing the storm's right-side defence asunder after running off a sweetly-timed pass from five-eighth Luke Branighan.
Winger Tevita Folau scored wide out five minutes before halftime from a slick "out the back" pass from centre Iosia Soliola, with Branighan converting this try from the sideline.
Poor judgment and errors spoiled second half
Branighan helped himself to a try ten minutes into the second half after the Jets had dominated possession and field position. That try completed Newtown's scoring for the afternoon as the Jets slid into a quagmire of poor discipline, lack of patience and a stream of conceded penalties.
Coach Matterson noted after the game that there had been too much speculative "ad lib" play and a failure to take on the hard yards and play right through the sets. That unproductive last thirty minutes hopefully would prove to be a good reality check as to the team's progress.
Front-rowers Ray Moujalli, Steve Meredith and Frank-Paul Nuuausala were once again among Newtown's best workers while backrowers Mickey Paea and Jimmy Andersen were always looking for weaknesses in the Storm's defence.
Hooker Luke Gordon's two tries came from his alertness and enterprise.
Newtown's backline functioned well in the first half but rarely threatened in the second session. Centre Toshio Laiseni impressed in his first competition match for the season.
The Newtown Jets are back home at Henson Park next weekend but in the unaccustomed time-slot of a Sunday afternoon. The Jets take on the in-form Auckland Vulcans (formerly the Auckland Lions) on Sunday, April 6th at 3.00pm. There will be Sydney Roosters v Penrith Panthers Harold Matthews and SG Ball fixtures as curtain-raisers at 12 noon and 1.30pm respectively.