3.00 pm, Saturday, 18 May 2013
Leichardt Oval, Cnr Mary St and Glover St, Lilyfield
Browse the 2013 Newtown Jets players & staff gallery
View NSW Cup ladder
The game was called LIVE by the Steele Sports team, Alby Talarico and Keith Payne through the Steele Sports website.
Browse moment-by-moment game action and game highlights in the galleries of our wonderful Newtown photographers, Mike Bidboudis and Jason McCawley.
See a short video of some of the Newtown tries and all the opposition's tries. And WE were the winners!
Leichhardt Oval has proven again that the venerable old ground is a favoured venue for the Newtown Jets, with the defending premiers rebounding from a 26-12 deficit against Wests Tigers to win by 30-26.
The joint venture team had led 20-6 at half-time and looked to be in control against the erratic and undisciplined Jets. Newtown's late victory surge on Saturday was inspired by Jets identities from last year's Grand Final such as Saulala Houma, Isaac Liu and Nafe Seluini.
Tigers overrun Jets after good Jets start
The Jets scored in the game's second minute through winger Paul Rokolati pouncing on a well-flighted grubber kick into the Wests Tigers in-goal zone by halfback Ryley Jacks.
Wests Tigers replied in the ninth minute when their gigantic winger Taqele Naiyaravoro finished off an efficiently-constructed backline movement.
Wests Tigers added two further tries through bouncing grubber kicks that Jets players failed to clean up in their own in-goal area. The home team added to their eventual half-time lead of 20-6 through a remarkable 100 metres try-scoring effort in the last minute of the first half, involving the behemothic Naiyaravoro and impressive young halfback Luke Brooks.
Coach inspires a second-half fightback
Newtown coach Greg Matterson impressed upon his team at the half-time break that they were trailing through their own lack of discipline and impetuous decisions, and that they could get back into the contest through the collective power of their forward pack.
This was proven immediately from the resumption of play as fullback Henare Wells went desperately close to scoring, and then front-rower Saulala Houma powered his way over in the third minute.
All seemed lost when Wests Tigers gained possession from a midfield error and added a converted try seven minutes into the second half to lead 26-12.
The game took on a different outlook as Newtown's forwards started to make good metres up the middle through Ray Moujalli, Kane Evans, Isaac Liu and Saulala Houma.
Jets hooker Nafe Seluini, the scourge of Balmain in last year's Grand Final, repeatedly made ground with his dashes from dummy-half.
The redoubtable Houma claimed his second try (and his eighth for the season) in the 16th minute, with Paul Rokolati's sideline conversion putting Newtown back in the game at 26-18 in arrears. The clock started to work against Newtown as the minutes ran down, and as Wests Tigers made valuable metres from an attempted 40/20 that was knocked over the sideline.
Nail-biting finish gives Newtown victory
With only nine minutes left prop Isaac Liu ploughed through several defenders to score next to the posts, but Rokolati's conversion attempt strayed wide.
Still trailing by four points, the Jets launched a high-speed attack and centre Michael Oldfield displayed speed and poise as he swerved his way to post the points-equalising try. Rokolati made no mistake with the conversion for Newtown to lead 28-26, but the Jets had to survive a desperation West Tigers attacking move that came to within five metres of the Newtown try-line.
Rokolati slotted over a penalty goal in the last minute of play for Newtown's 30-26 victory.
Coach Matterson was more than willing to take the competition points, but said there had been too many errors made and wrong options taken.
For many of Newtown's younger players this season has been a trial by fire and they need to continue to learn from their experiences in senior football. The coaching staff lauded the fine contributions made by forwards Moujalli, Houma, Evans and Seluini, the outstanding individual try by Oldfield and the continued improvement shown by Wells.
The Newtown Jets take on the second-placed North Sydney at North Sydney Oval next Saturday (25th May) at 3.00pm, with this 11th round VB NSW Cup match between two of Rugby League's oldest rivals also doubling as the deciding game in the 2013 Frank Hyde Shield series.
As the game played out in Townsville...
We were assembled in a 10th floor room of the hotel opposite the Cowboys Leagues Club - six of us, dressed in red white and blue but with our minds focused on the Royal Blue Jets taking on the Tigers in far-away Sydney.
The Steel Sports call was coming through loud and clear on Wayne Leong's ipad.
Come on Bluebags! We need a win!
|2nd min||6-0||Paul Rokolati try and conversion. Newtown lead 6-0.|
|9th min||6-4||Taqele Naiyaravoro try., not converted. Newtown lead 6-4.|
|16th min||6-10||Luke Brooks try, Sean Meaney converts. Wests Tigers lead 10-6.|
|28th min||6-16||Masada Iosefa try, Seam Meaney goal. Wests Tigers 16-6.|
|40th min||6-20||Luke Brooks try, unconverted. Wests Tigers lead 20-6 at half-time.|
|By the end of the first half, I am getting despairing texts from Alan Bell at Leichhardt Oval.
We head off for the bus to take us to the Cowboys stadium for the Roosters game. Wayne is listening now on his iphone. His emotional responses to what he hears are sapping our energies. "What is happening" "Oh no!" NO!!!! YES!!! Fortunes are unclear.
|43rd min||12-20||Saulala Houma try, Paul Rokolati converts. Wests Tigers lead 20-12.|
|47th min||12-26||Sean Meaney try and conversion. Wests Tigers lead 26-12.|
|56th min||18-26||Saulala Houma try, converted by Paul Rokolati. Wests Tigers lead 26-18.|
|A hopeful text from Leichhardt: "Great comeback happening." Penalties have swung around to the Jets. Great tries before and after half-time to Saulala.|
|71st min||22-26||Isaac Liu try, not converted. Wests Tigers lead 26-22.|
|YES!!! Then "HOW??? They said it was the easiest kick yet!"
Being in the bus is awful. We can see Wayne's face and body language but can't hear a thing. Even when he tells us what is happening, we can hardly hear what he is saying because of the bus noise. The Cowboys supporters think we are crazy. I am trying to keep score and record scorers. My notes are crumpled and illegible!
|75th min||28-26||Michael Oldfield try, converted by Paul Rokolati. Newtown lead 28-26.|
|79th min||30-26||Paul Rokolati penalty goal. Newtown lead 30-26.|
|Full-Time||WIN!!!!||Newtown 30 defeated Wests Tigers 26.|
|Last text from Alan: "Great spirited victory... Reminiscent of the GF! Team and supporters very excited... We feel great! Bring on the Bears." Go you mighty Jets!
Newtown 30 [Saulala Houma 2, Paul Rokolati, Isaac Liu, Michael Oldfield tries; Paul Rokolati 4 conversions, 1 penalty goal]
Wests Tigers 26 [5 tries; 3 goals]
Half-Time: Wests Tigers led 20-6.
Officials: Referee, Tim Rutherford (Queensland Rugby League); Touch judges, Scott Shepherd and Richard Daizli.
Weather: Fine, sunny, mild, 20 degrees Celsius.
Playing surface: Excellent.