3.00 pm, Saturday, 29 August
Meet the players
NSW Cup ladder [end of last round]
Jets Finals hopes depend on their result in the next round
The Newtown Jets can still make the 2009 NSW Cup playoffs despite losing by 28-8 to Cronulla-Sutherland at Henson Park last Saturday.
The Jets will qualify for the 2009 finals if they can beat their traditional inner-western rivals the Balmain Tigers in the final competition round at Henson Park next Saturday. This popular local derby will also decide the winner of the Trevor Ryan - Neil Pringle Shield for 2009.
Last Saturday's match was decided by similar factors in other Jets' losses this season - the Sharks had a better overall completion rate; they spent more time in possession than did Newtown; plus they made better use of their attacking chances.
Newtown's own errors led to them doing a power of tackling in the first half which left them flat and fatigued when the game was there to be won in the second stanza.
It could also be argued that the Jets had been disadvantaged by the peculiarities of the NSW Cup draw - the fact that they had last played a full three weeks before told against them in last Saturday's unseasonably warm late winter conditions.
Newtown trailed 12-4 at halftime, with the Sharks scoring in the 38th minute when a high kick hoisted by a Sharks player ricocheted off an upright right into the arms of an on-rushing Cronulla chaser.
The Jets stayed right in the game well into the second half, trailing by 16-8 with less than ten minutes on the clock.
The Jets had their opportunities in the second half - centre Tu'U Maori had the ball torn from his grasp as he crossed the tryline, Newtown winger Sisa Waqa was penalised for a double-movement, and there had been a marginal forward-pass call when the Jets were well positioned near the Cronulla line.
Typical of Newtown's fortune on the day was when Sean Rudder's high kick bounced back off an upright (in similar style to the Sharks' try right on halftime), but this time the ball was safely claimed by a Cronulla defender. In the ensuing set the Sharks moved the ball downfield to score the match-sealing try seven minutes out from fulltime. Cronulla added another converted try about ninety seconds from the fulltime siren.
Newtown utility player Sean Rudder, the man with the most NRL playing experience on the field, set up both of the Jets' tries through clever cut-out passes and did his level best to ignite Newtown's attack.
Forward James Koloamatangi repeatedly tried to crack the Sharks defensive line and halfback Liam Foran used variation in his passing and kicking game. Injuries to key forwards Ray Moujalli and Jimmy Andersen added to Newtown's problems.
Newtown Jets 8 [Ray Moujalli, Smith Samau tries]
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 28 [5 tries, 4 goals]
Half-time: Sharks led 12-4.
Last throw of the dice
And so Newtown's 2009 season comes down to the final home game which is also the occasion for the annual Newtown Jets players, officials, staff members and supporters' reunion.
The Jets must either win or draw against the in-form Balmain Tigers to advance into the finals series ahead of the Shellharbour Dragons. This decisive fixture is at Henson Park on Saturday, 5 September and gets underway at 3.00pm.