First round of the Trevor Ryan-Neil Pringle Shield
10.40 pm, Sunday, 25 May
NSW Cup ladder [end of last round]
No place for the faint-hearted
Leichhardt Oval was no place for the faint-hearted when the Newtown Jets slugged it out for a hard-fought 20-12 win against Balmain in the VB NSW Cup match played on Sunday 25 May.
The Jets led 8-6 at half-time and were clinging to a 14-12 lead with less than ten minutes left to play. A converted try seven minutes from full-time gave the Jets some breathing space in this tough encounter between the two old inner-city Rugby League rivals.
The Jets dressing room at full-time provided ample evidence as to what a rugged, give-no-quarter this match had been as Newtown’s club doctor Bassam Moses attended to several injured players.
Backrower Mickey Paea has been Newtown’s form forward this season and he led the way in this showdown with Balmain’s no-nonsense forward pack. Paea fittingly scored Newtown’s third try that sealed the result in the Jets’ favour.
First half left game evenly balanced
There was little between the teams in the first half with Jets halfback Luke Millwood kicking a penalty goal right on half-time. The Tigers were fighting for a place in the top eight and used their big pack to test Newtown’s defences.
Skilful play and good execution kept Jets ahead in second half
The Jets extended their lead when five-eighth Luke Branighan’s well-directed cut out pass put big winger Tevita Folau in at the southern right-hand corner and Millwood converted from the sideline.
Balmain narrowed the margin to 14-12 with fourteen minutes left and looked to be gaining the ascendancy. The Jets had their chances to wrap the game up in the course of the second half with hooker Rory Kostjasyn, fullback Toshio Laiseni and centre Rhys Pritchard all going desperately close to scoring.
Paea’s game-breaking try with seven minutes to play was another example of this fine professional’s strength and determination.
Victory through a whole team effort
While Mickey Paea was Newtown’s standout forward he received plenty of support from his fellow packmen, especially Daniel Green and Sean Rudder.
The whole Newtown set of forwards took a physical battering but stuck gamely to their task. Winger Byron Ford was the best of the Jets backline and defused several dangerous situations with his safe catching.
Interchange player Hep Cahill deputised capably in the centres in the absence of the badly-concussed Albert Hopoate, while halfback Millwood’s chase and capture of a Balmain player in his in-goal zone late in the match personified the fierce competitiveness of this admirable team effort.
Rhys Pritchard has strained ankle ligaments as does Danny Howard. Albert
Hopoate was badly concussed and is being rested.
The third-placed Newtown Jets take on second-placed Wentworthville (Parramatta’s feeder club in the NSW Cup competition) next Sunday (1st June) at Ringrose Park with the match timed to start at 3.00pm.
3 tries, 4 goals
2 tries, 2 goals
Half-Time: Newtown led 8-6.
Referee: Bernie Sutton
Touch judges: Adam Reid, Andrew Zapantis