Flashback Friday – Newtown v Parra / Wenty
Each week, thanks to Schofield King Lawyers, we bring you a story from our rich history.
When Parramatta beat Newtown 20-11 in the 1981 Grand Final, little did they know that they had just won the first battle in a four-part war that would span over three decades.
25-years after that memorable premiership decider, the fog of nostalgia was thick in the air. 22-years after being kicked out of rugby league’s first-tier and less than seven years after returning to its second, the Jets were back in back in a grand final, their opponents – the Parramatta Eels.
Newtown were up against it from the start. In 2006, Parramatta both defending and minor premiers had comprehensively beaten the Jets in their previous encounter. However, after an attacking masterclass from Josh Lewis handed the Jets a 10-0 lead early in the piece, an upset looked to be in the making. Ultimately, it wasn’t to be though, as golden-point field goal to halfback Marcus Perenara helped the Eels to a 20-19 victory over the gallant Jets.
Hurting, but undaunted, the Jets returned to the second tier’s biggest stage two-years later and who were their opponents? Parramatta’s feeder side Wentworthville. Like the 2008 decider, this game would also go down to the wire, with both teams subjected to an 104-minute slog.
Once again, the Jets started well, with tries to wingers Byron Ford and Shaun Foley giving them an 8-4 lead at the break. However, by the full-time siren Wenty has levelled the scores at 8-all, thus signalling the start of an infamous field-goal shootout, which eventually ended when Mark O’Grady (son of former Jet, Graeme) broke the Bluebags’ hearts by setting up the winning try for Iwi Hauraki.
While Newtown finally broke through for a premiership in 2012, there was still a perception amongst some that after those three heartbreaking losses, we had a score to settle with the Eel-pies. The chance to settle that score came once again in 2019, when the seventh-placed Jets found themselves contesting the Canterbury Cup Grand Final against Wentworthville.
The Magpies were particularly keen to win, as after 11-years together, the Eels had decided to extinguish their partnership and play under the Parramatta banner in 2020. This time it was the Magpies who started the stronger, leading 14-12 at half-time. However, a penalty goal to Brayden Trindall in the 75th minute of play levelled the scores and sent the game into extra-time (again).
Wenty thought they’d sealed the game when they kicked a field goal in the 82nd minute of play (no golden point this time), but they didn’t count on a young bloke called Billy Magoulias. With less than three minutes on the clock, the Greek international chipped in his own half and set up the William Kennedy try that not only secured the 2019 title, but also broke a 38-year-old hoodoo that had been hanging over the club.
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