The NSWRL.COM website has produced the first of its weekly match previews, with Jets coach Greg Matterson explaining the challenge facing his side with some players making their debut appearances for the Newtown club.
As the VB NSW Cup partner of the Sharks, the Jets have inherited eight Sharks-contracted players for tomorrow game, some who have played just one trial for Newtown, others who are yet to don the famous blue Jets jersey.
The match between the Jets at Tigers is scheduled for a 3.00pm kick off at Henson Park, Newtown’s traditional home, with the Sharks Matthews Cup and SG Ball teams playing curtain raisers against the Sydney Roosters.
First game gets underway at 12.00 noon, with entry to Henson Park free to Sharks members (those Sharks members yet to receive 2015 passes can enter by producing membership receipt).
See following the NSWRL.COM match preview of the round one VB NSW Cup clash between the Jets and Tigers.
By Pat Molihan
‘KEEP it simple’ will be the philosophy for all clubs with round 1 of the VB NSW Cup shaping up like an episode of ‘New Faces’ this weekend.
Look at the sides on paper and it’s hard not to get excited about the potential at every club. The problem in most cases is that expanded National Rugby League squads over the pre-season mean many players are yet to settle in at their VB NSW Cup clubs with the Newtown Jets a case in point.
They host Wests Tigers at Henson Park on Saturday afternoon with the Jets boosted by a large number of players from the Sharks as their feeder club but it’s all new to their five-eighth, former Dragons utility Kyle Stanley and hooker Pat Politoni.
“For Kyle Stanley it’ll be the first time he’s pulled on a Newtown jumper,” said Jets coach Greg Matterson. “It’ll be a bit hard for him and Pat Politoni. Kyle hasn’t played a minute for us yet.
“It’s the same with a lot of the NRL clubs. They’ve had their players with them or wanted their full-timers off at half-time in trials with us.”
For an experienced coach like Matterson it comes with the territory. The full-timers train with the Sharks until Thursday when they join the Jets for a field session of anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes. It’s not much and definitely not ideal but their class will shine through the longer the season goes and for that reason these early rounds are a lottery.
“Hold the footy and get you ‘D’ right,” said Matterson. “For rounds one to five you’ve just got to hold the footy and tackle well and you’ll win footy games.”
There’s been rocks and diamonds for the Jets in their three pre-season trials against Illawarra, North Sydney and Wests Tigers. They led the Tigers 22-6 at half-time before a mass change in personnel meant they were swamped in the second half.
“They ran over us in the second half,” said Matterson. “We were a train wreck after the break. It was our own fault with dropped balls and penalties but it was actually a really good lesson for our blokes and I’m expecting a pretty tight game this weekend.”
Just like the Sharks, Wests Tigers have plenty of players with top-grade experience. Fullback Shannon McDonnell and journeyman centre Keith Lulia giving captain and halfback Josh Drinkwater some senior players to lean on in a backline which also includes exciting young winger Kurtis Rowe.
It means little now but last season they split their two clashes with the Tigers home 32-16 at Leichhardt Oval in round 15 and the Jets reversing the result 30-14 at Henson Park in round 21.
Newtown Jets v Wests Tigers, Henson Park, Saturday March 7. Kick-off: 3pm. Referee: Adam Cassidy
JETS: 1 NATHAN GARDNER 2 BLAKE JUDD 3 SAMI SAUILUMA 4 BLAKE AYSHFORD 5 DALLAS WELLS 6 KYLE STANLEY 7 TODD MURPHY 8 TIM ROBINSON 9 PAT POLITONI 10 ANDREW PEARN 11 JUNIOR ROQICA 12 PATRICE SIOLO 13 KURT KARA 14 NESIASI MATAITONGA 16 KURT DILLON 17 RAY MOUJALLI 20 JACK NOBLE 21 LEONARDI FETUANI 22 JORDAN GALLOWAY COACH GREG MATTERSON
WESTS TIGERS: 1 SHANNON MCDONELL 2 DELOUISE HOETER 3 KEITH LULIA 4 CHANCE PENI 5 KURTIS ROWE 6 SITALEKI AKAUOLA 7 JOSH DRINKWATER (C) 8 DALLAS GRAHAM 9 JOEL LUANI 10 JACK BUCHANAN 11 LAMAR LIOLEVAVE 12 ASIPELI FINE 13 ANDY FIAGATUSA 14 MANAIA CHERRINGTON 15 MICHAEL BULLOCK 16 SALESI FUNAKI 17 INNO INOSESIO COACH PAUL FLETCHER