3.00 pm, Saturday, 22 June 2013
Post-match function: The VIC, Enmore
Browse the 2013 Newtown Jets players & staff gallery
View NSW Cup ladder
LIVE call - Steele Sports website.
Catch some of the moments from the game in Mike Biboudis's photo gallery. Amazing photos by one of the terrific Newtown volunteer photographers - you wouldn't even KNOW how miserable and dark the conditions were. Well done, Mike!
Spectators are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages or glass bottles into Henson Park.
Game day raffle sponsors
Billy Elliott & Bob Petersen
Balmain Historic Pub Tours
Last Saturday's showdown between the undefeated Cronulla Sharks and the in-form Newtown Jets lived up to pre-match expectations, despite the teeming rain that drove away the anticipated big Henson Park crowd.
Both sides scored three tries each and only a goal separated them at full-time.
Newtown led 12-6 at half-time but Cronulla took control in the third quarter to establish an 18-12 lead. The Jets scored their third try just five minutes before full-time but were unable to bridge the two-point gap, with the Sharks making it fifteen wins in a row through this 18-16 victory.
The heavy rain was certainly a great equaliser and so too were the demands of State of Origin II, with both the Jets and Sharks having players called up to their NRL partnership clubs - the Roosters and the Melbourne Storm [Cronulla-Sutherland had an NRL bye].
The playing surface at Henson Park held up very well but the pouring rain was bound to effect the players' handling and make the final result somewhat of a lottery.
Jets fight hard in first half
The Jets began hesitantly with an error from the kick-off but were in fact first to score, when prop Saulala Houma scored his tenth try for the season with another of his angled, barnstorming charges.
Newtown then turned in a tremendous first half defensive performance, keeping the highest points-scoring team in the VB NSW cup scoreless until the 31st minute.
The Jets were under sustained pressure for much of the first half, repelling the Sharks after they had forced no less than five goal-line drop-outs on Newtown. Ironically the Sharks first try came about through some poor Jets tackling, with the French international Tony Gigot converting the try from the sideline in difficult conditions.
Newtown hit back in the 39th minute when second-rower Brad Barrett scored out wide. Jets winger Chris Taripo then proved he could also convert a try from the sideline in pelting rain.
Second half lapse proved costly
Newtown's worst period of the game was the fifteen minutes after half-time, when the Sharks scored two converted tries and made it clear why they were the undefeated competition leaders.
The remainder of the second half was a fierce struggle between two tough and determined teams playing in deteriorating conditions. Jets captain Tinirau Arona broke through to score with five minutes left to play, after the Jets had launched several assaults on the Sharks line.
Taripo's conversion attempt swung wide but the Jets desperately strove for the match-winning try right up to the final siren.
Coaching staff assessment
The Jets coaching staff praised their team's big-hearted performance in conditions that players only rarely encounter these days.
The Jets had their chances to win the game but inexperience and handling errors caught them out in the game's tense latter stages. The match was probably lost in that crucial period immediately after half-time when the Sharks had 35 plays with the ball to Newtown's 4 and they scored two converted tries in that period.
The Jets defensive effort in the first half was a real performance benchmark for the team for future matches.
Jets hooker Kurt Kara had an outstanding game and set an example to his team-mates with his relentless tackling, and Brad Barrett also worked extremely hard.
Josh Ailaomai, Saulala Houma and Ray Moujalli repeatedly gained their team valuable metres with their fearless charges into the thick of the Sharks defence. The loss of Kane Evans, arguably the competition's form forward, with an ankle injury was a real blow on a day when the weather conditions dictated that this would be a battle of the two forward packs.
The Jets travel to Sydney's south-west next Saturday to take on the Canberra Raiders feeder team Mounties, who have moved into the top eight with several impressive wins in recent weeks. The Mounties-Newtown match is on Saturday, 29 June, at the Mt Pritchard Sports Ground at 3.00pm.
Newtown Jets 16 [Saulala Houma, Brad Barrett, Tinirau Arona tries; Chris Taripo 2 goals]
Cronulla Sharks 18 [3 tries; 3 goals]
Half-time: Jets led 12-6.
Referee: Michael Laverty.
Pitch very soggy. At one point in the game there was more than a five minute delay as officials repaired a hole in the centre of the field. The weather was incredible - rain so heavy that it was difficult at times to see the action clearly. Lights came on late in second half.
Atrocious conditions did not prevent captain, Tinirau Arona, driving through to score with 5 to go.
Photo by Jodie Newell of Newell Media Group
Steam rises from the scrum - the empty hill benches are just visible in the gloom.
Photo by Jason McCawley
Earlier this season
The Sharks remain undefeated at the top of the NSW Cup table but they were pressed strongly by the Jets until the final quarter in the 24-32 Rd4 clash between the teams.
Can the Newtown Jets continue their winning run and defeat this formidable opponent on Saturday?
As at all Jets home games, the support of the Newtown crowd lifts the spirits of the players. Here's a video clip to inspire positive thinking as you ask yourself "Can the Jets make it six wins in a row?"
Were you there to support YOUR JETS!