3.00 pm, Saturday, 5 September
Meet the players
NSW Cup ladder [end of last round]
The Newtown Jets ensured themselves of eighth position on the competition table and a place in the 2009 NSW Cup finals series with their 32-22 win against the Balmain Tigers at Henson Park on Saturday.
Missed opportunities in first half
The Jets looked to be in real trouble when they trailed by 16-6 at halftime, but they set the big reunion day crowd ablaze as they piled on four tries in the game's third quarter to set up a match winning lead.
Newtown's first half featured elements of the triple alliance that had plagued them all season - conceding penalties, turning over possession in their own half and missed scoring opportunities.
Newtown centre, Sonny Tuigamala, scored a smartly-taken try on the end of some crisp ball movement in the 18th minute and his centre partner, Chris Tuatara, went close to scoring when he was tackled into touch in-goal five minutes later.
The Tigers had a much better completion rate in the first half and looked more likely to go on and claim the result.
Coach's half-time message re-energises team
The Jets halftime reassessment clearly re-energised their game as they began the second half with more vigour and direct running.
The "human wrecking ball", James Koloamatangi, smashed his way over near the posts at the Sydenham Road end soon after the break and hooker, Tavite Vatuvei, scored one of the season's more audacious tries from a quick tap penalty in the tenth minute of the second half.
The Jets continued to drive forward and five-eighth, Tu'U Maori, raced in for a superb try after the ball had travelled through several pairs of hands. Maori made it a double five minutes later when he tore through some weak defence to score under the posts.
A nervous 4th quarter for supporters
Jets supporters started to watch the time clock nervously when the Tigers pulled back to 30-22 with nearly twenty minutes left to play.
Newtown defended their line well and Tu'U Maori added a penalty goal ten minutes out from fulltime to complete the day's scoring.
The Newtown Jets were in the finals in 2009!
Joyous supporters and equally joyous players greeted each other after the game in the Newtown tradition.
Player performances and coach's comments
Coach Greg Matterson attributed the second half resurgence to team energy and being willing to run straight and hard rather than continual lateral movement with the ball.
He had told his players at halftime to really engage the Tigers through the rucks and they would tire. The Jets 90% completion rate in the second half helped keep the added pressure on their opponents.
James Koloamatangi was voted man of the match and he inspired his team-mates with his tireless charges into the thick of the rucks. Sean Rudder was the best of the other forwards who all contributed to this great fightback victory.
Five-eighth, Tu'U Maori, centre, Chris Tuatara, and winger, Smith Samau, were the best of Newtown's backs, with Tuatara making an impressive comeback after an extended layoff due to injury.
Finals week 1
All attention now turns to the finals as the Newtown Jets shape up to the minor premiers Bankstown City.
This match will be played at The Crest Stadium, Bass Hill next Saturday, 12 September, with this qualifying final kicking off at 3.00pm.
Coach Matterson's message to Newtown's supporters on finals eve was typically sharp and accurate: "If our blokes play to their full ability and stick to their instructions they can beat anyone in this finals series".
Back: Sonny Tuigamala, Sean Rudder, Matt Hall, Nick Kouparitsas, Kyle Lodge, James Koloamatangi, Ray Moujalli, Anthony Cherrington, Chris Tuatara, Rohan Ahern
Front: Ryan Millard, Tevita Vatuvei, Donny Thompson, Jake Ashley, Jimmy Andersen ©, Smith Samau, Tu'U Maori, Liam Foran
Absent: Khalid Deeb
Newtown Jets 32 [Sonny Tuigamala, James Koloamatangi, Tevita Vatuvei, Tu'U Maori 2 tries; Tu'U Maori 6 goals]
Balmain Ryde Tigers 22 [4 tries; 3 goals]
Half-time: Tigers led 16-6.