3.00 pm, Sunday, 7 August 2011
Cnr Cumberland & Gt Western Hwys
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The Newtown Jets and Wentworthville fought out a 30-all draw in the 22nd round NSW Cup match played at Ringrose Park on Sunday, after Newtown had led 18-10 at the break.
With the Jets clinging to a 30-28 lead in the game's final minutes, Wentworthville kicked a penalty goal in the last thirty seconds to draw level.
Jets take first-half honours in gloom
Rain clouds gathered over western Sydney prior to the 3.00pm kick-off and it seemed inevitable that some or most of the game would be played in rain.
The Jets scored in the fifth minute when Blake Lazarus sent a bouncing kick into the left-side corner where it was pounced on by winger Byron Ford. Newtown dominated possession and territory in the game's first quarter but found it hard to crack open the stubborn Wentworthville defence.
Once Wenty gained a share of the ball they made some alarmingly easy metres through Newtown's middle-third and sent their winger in under the posts.
The home team was punished for an elementary error at their own end and Jets second-rower Brad Barrett crashed over in the 26th minute.
Wentworthville made further good use of their share of possession and scored their second try. Jets paceman Sam Latu latched onto a wayward Wenty pass in the 39th minute and raced away to score, with Blake Lazarus's third conversion giving Newtown an 18-10 lead at half-time.
Tense second half with Jets ignoring coach's half-time rev up
The second half commenced with steady rain falling, making the close-cut Ringrose Park surface quite slippery.
Jets coach Greg Matterson had told his players at half-time to stay disciplined and they'd wear the big Wenty forwards down, but Newtown's second half handling errors, some critical defensive lapses and a 5-1 penalty count to Wenty gave the home team plenty of momentum.
The teams traded tries with Newtown fullback Mark Kheirallah collecting two through speedy support play, and the Jets led 30-22 with 15 minutes left to play.
A howler of a mistake at Newtown's end presented Wenty with a converted try, making the score 30-28 with ten minutes remaining. Byron Ford was held up over the line and denied a try that would have wrapped up the game.
Wenty mounted a desperation attacking raid that exploited a repeated Newtown defensive weakness and sent one of their centres sprinting to the posts. Jets second-rower Tom Symonds pulled off a stunning try-saving tackle, but the Jets incurred a penalty in the ensuing play the ball.
Surprisingly, the home team opted to take the shot at penalty goal and ensure a 30-all outcome.
Coach Matterson observed after fulltime that Newtown had paid the price for some rash defensive options and these would be worked on at training this week.
He wryly noted that while it was disappointing to come away with a draw, to have lost the match in the last 30 seconds would have been far worse.
Newtown Jets 30 [Mark Kheirallah 2, Byron Ford, Sam Latu, Brad Barrett tries; Blake Lazarus 5 goals.
Wentworthville Magpies 30 [5 tries; 5 goals].
Half-time: Jets led 18-10.
Officials: Referee, Michael Laverty. Touch Judges, Jay Farlow, Matt Damaso.
Weather: Overcast, mild, rain showers fell in the second half. Playing surface: Slippery in the second half.
The Jets return to Henson Park next Saturday, 13 August, to take on Manly-Warringah at 3.00pm. Newtown must win this game to lock down the certainty of a home semi-final in round one of the NSW Cup semi-finals.
The Cronulla Sharks and Western Suburbs provide a curtain-raiser next Saturday at Henson Park, commencing at 1.00pm.