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Image: mafphotography
Image: mafphotography

Throw Back Thursday – Scoring Spree Earns Nathan A Merritt Award

Each week, thanks to Cryo, we look back at a significant moment in our rich history. Today, the day Nathan Merritt made his mark in the Newtown record books. 

SCORING SPREE EARNS NATHAN A MERRITT AWARD

In his recently published book, “Taking it to the Streets: The Second Life of the Newtown RLFC” author, Glen Dwyer raised a few eyebrows when he named Nathan Merritt as the Jets’ best fullback of the “Second-Tier years.”

However, to those who witnessed his heroic performances with the club in 2005, Merritt’s selection came as no surprise. Before making his name with South Sydney, the then 21 year old Merritt was contracted to Cronulla. Fortunately for the Jets, he became a regular starter in the royal blue after struggling to get a run in first grade behind Luke Covell and David Simmons.

During his lone season with the Jets, Merritt contributed 282 points and many memorable performances, none more so than his demolition of the Panthers’ then-feeder side, the St Mary’s Penrith Cougars, on 21 May 2005.

That late autumn afternoon at the Western Weekender Stadium, the Jets walloped the Cougars 64-8. The game remains our biggest winning margin of our top grade side since returning to the second tier in the year 2000. Merritt’s personal tally of 40 points – via 5 tries and 10 goals – set the all time record for the most points ever scored by a Newtown player in a single match. It’s also the second highest tally of points scored by an individual in a single match in the NSWRL’s history, behind only Eastern Suburbs great, Dave Brown.

Funnily enough, the Cougars scored the opening points of the game, but from then on, the Jets dominated. By halftime it was 30-4, but the Bluebags refused to show their opponents any mercy, more than doubling the score during the second stanza and sending the small contingent of travelling fans into raptures.  

Speaking after the game, coach Col Murphy said Merritt, “had an absolute blinder. We’ve got a big pack and he just hangs around the ruck, and if there’s even a sniff, he hits the hole.”

In some respects, the Cougars game marked a change Merritt’s fortunes. After taking out Newtown’s Player’s Player award at the end of the season, the indigeous winger returned home to South Sydney in 2006, where he went on to player for nine more seasons, becoming both the leading try scorer (146) and the second-most capped player (218) at the foundation club.

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Nathan Merritt in full flight on his way to one of five tries he scored at St Mary’s in 2005. Photo: Gary Sutherland Photography
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Most Newtown Jets supporters would have seen the black and white version of this photo of the Newtown RLFC NSWRL first grade premiership-winning team of 1943, captained by the mighty Frank “Bumper” Farrell and coached by Arthur Folwell. This colourised version has been kindly supplied by a Newtown Jets supporter named Coll who has done a number of other interesting colourisations as well.

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