3.00 pm, Saturday, 10 September 2011
Meet the players
NSW Cup ladder [end of last round]
Game day raffle sponsors
Billy Elliott & Bob Petersen
Balmain Historic Pub Tours
View game highlights in the Mike Bidboudis or Jason McCauley photo slideshows.
Jets primed for showdown with Bears
The Newtown Jets will contest a sudden-death NSW Cup elimination semi-final against North Sydney next Sunday, after defeating Wentworthville 34-29 in the qualifying final played at Henson Park last Saturday.
There were plenty of flaws in the Jets performance and they trailed Wentworthville by 16-0 thirty minutes into the first half. The Jets recovered this lost ground and dominated most of the second half, but worryingly allowed Wenty back into the match in the last ten minutes.
The Wentworthville team flew out of the blocks in this qualifying final and looked much more like the team destined to progress further in this finals series. The visitors scored twice in the opening ten minutes and increased their lead to 16-0 at the thirty-minute mark.
The injection of Newtown's benchmen added enthusiasm and urgency to the Jets' play, and big prop Ryan Verlinden crashed through the Wenty defensive line in the 35th minute to send flying fullback Mark Kheirallah racing clear to the line.
Hooker Scott Jones, five-eighth Johnno Ford and centre Willie Mataka were all involved in putting Sam Latu over in the corner two minutes before halftime. Virtually on the siren Wenty's five-eighth Daniel Mortimer snapped a well-taken field goal for his team to lead 17-10 at the break.
Second half heart-stopping excitement
Newtown coach Greg Matterson impressed upon his team at halftime that their season could well be on the line, and demanded they lift their tempo and tighten their defence.
The Jets took up this challenge, putting on three converted tries in the game's third quarter to lead by 28-17. Wildcard winger Byron Ford bounded 80 metres for his try, roared on by the fiercely-partisan Newtown crowd.
Centre Willie Mataka scored after Newtown gained a repeat set at Wenty's end and second-rower Brad Barrett pounced on a bouncing kick from Johnno Ford that had evaded the grasp of desperate Wenty defenders.
Wentworthville stayed in the game with a try midway through the second half but the Jets extended their lead when tall five-eighth Johnno Ford dashed in next to the posts after good lead-up work by halfback Blake Lazarus. The Jets allowed Wenty back into the game with two late tries that had the home crowd anxiously awaiting the final siren.
Coach Matterson was pleased with Newtown's ability to hit back after a poor start but he was concerned that the team had conceded six tries in a finals match. He promised there would be plenty of defensive remedial work at training this week as the Royal Blues head into an all or nothing finals situation.
The coaching staff named Scott Jones, Ryan Verlinden, Khalid Deeb and Brad Barrett as Newtown's best forwards, along with Johnno Ford, Mark Kheirallah and winger Sam Latu as being the best of the backs. On a day when both teams scored six tries, Blake Lazarus's goal kicking proved decisive.
Next finals match
The Jets now advance into an elimination semi-final against long-time rivals North Sydney at Leichhardt Oval next Sunday, 18 September, at 3.00pm. The curtain-raiser is another "kill or be killed" semi-final between the Cronulla Sharks and Wentworthville, kicking off at 1.00pm.
The feature game between the two 1908 foundation clubs should be a dream draw for the NSW Rugby League, given that it will be the first time in living memory that these two historic Rugby League clubs have met in a sudden-death semi-final confrontation.
Newtown Jets 34 [Mark Kheirallah, Sam Latu, Byron Ford, Willie Mataka, Brad Barrett, Johnathon Ford tries; Blake Lazarus 5 goals]
Wentworthville Magpies 29 [6 tries; 2 goals; 1 field goal]
Half-time: Wentworthville led 10-17.
Officials:Referee, Jon Stone; Touch Judges, Richard Daizli, Nick Beashel.
Weather: Cold, overcast. Playing surface: Good.