Newtown’s young trial squad makes a good impression in the searing heat at Blacktown
Newly-appointed Newtown Jets head coach George Ndaira would have been pleased with his young team’s performance in the opening trial match of the 2023 rugby league season.
The Jets defeated Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 28-16 in the Knock-On effect NSW Cup trial match played at the HE Laybutt Sports Complex at Blacktown on Saturday afternoon.
The game was played in 37 degrees Celsius but the pre-season physical preparation of both teams enabled the players to come through this “trial by western Sydney summer heat” relatively unscathed.
Both teams recorded reasonably high completion rates (close to 75% per team for the entire game) despite the obvious disadvantage of playing in such enervating temperatures.
The match was played in four twenty-minute quarters with no conversion attempts being taken for tries.
The scores were level at 4-all after twenty minutes, but the Sea Eagles pulled away to a 12-4 lead midway through the second session. The Jets drew level at 12-all by half-time.
Newtown’s young squad showed considerable fortitude in scoring the next four tries to take a match-winning 28-12 lead by midway of the fourth quarter, with the Sea Eagles scoring the final try of the match.
The Jets coaching staff pointed out that the game was very much in the balance for the first ten minutes of the third quarter when the scores were still tied at 12-all.
This trial was played in an admirably competitive spirit overall, although one Sea Eagle forward “lost his rag” early in the fourth segment and was sent off.
What would have been pleasing for coach George Ndaira was that this young Jets squad proved through this disciplined and tidy showing that they should provide a solid bed-rock of talent for Newtown’s quest for the NSW Cup in 2023.
There are no less than twelve players who are not long out of the Jersey Flegg Cup development systems from clubs such as the Cronulla Sharks, Canterbury Bulldogs, South Sydney and Manly-Warringah. Others are products of the Auckland Rugby League Fox Memorial competition.
Stylish Jets winger Maile Haumono scored two tries on debut in Newtown’s blue colours. Maile’s father is Solo Haumono, who had a remarkable rugby league and boxing career in the 1990s and 2000s.
Big Solo was at the match on Saturday and was obviously a proud man watching his son playing in the Jets colours. These days Solo bears an amazing likeness to the famous American singer and political activist Paul Robeson!
Another interesting identity who played for Newtown on Saturday was the rangy back-rower Adam Fearnley, whose older brother Brad (ex-Penrith Jersey Flegg) is currently training with the Cronulla Sharks NRL squad. The two brothers are members of a famous sporting family from Carcoar in central-western NSW.
The family includes the multiple medal-winning Australian Paralympian Kurt Fearnley (who is also a well-known television personality), along with the tough front-rower Greg Fearnley, who was a member of the legendary Western Division rugby league representative team that won the Amco Cup against all the odds in 1974.
Saturday’s match details were: –
Newtown 28: Maile Haumono 2, Wes Lolo, Johnny-Lee Gabrael, Kai Parker, Harrison Geraghty, Conor Garrety tries
Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 16: 4 tries.
Half-Time: 12 all.
Weather: Sunny, very hot, 37 degrees.
Playing surface: Excellent.
Newtown’s team was: –
Fullback: Wyatt Rangi
Wingers: Marco Talagi, Maile Haumono
Centres: Trentham Petersen, Kyle Pickering
Halves: Harrison Geraghty, Johnny-Lee Gabrael
Lock: Billy Magoulias
Second-Rowers: Charbel Tasipale, Jordin Leiu
Front-Rowers: Wes Lolo, Rhys Dakin
Hooker: Isaac Longmuir.
Reserves Bench: Toroa Rapana, Kobi Wilson, Jackson Stewart, Adam Fearnley, Toataua Porima, Connor Garrety, Kai Parker.
Coach: George Ndaira.
Newtown’s second Knock-On Effect NSW Cup trial match: –
Newtown will play Canterbury-Bankstown next Sunday, 19th February, at Belmore Sports Ground.
There are special logistical and operational requirements arising from the NRL Pre-Season double-header being played at Belmore Sports Ground later that day.
As a result, the Bulldogs-Newtown NSW Cup trial next Sunday will not be open to the public.
Newtown Jets respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the Land and pay our respects to their Elders past and present. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on and that the land area encompassing Henson Park traditionally belonged to the Gadigal people of the Eora nation.