The Newtown Jets have gone down 20-points-to-18 at the hands of the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Up by 14 points at the break, the Jets were unable to stave off a resurgent Warriors outfit, who proved a touch too good at the end of the 80 minutes.
Buoyed by the return of veteran forward Ali Lauitiiti to the club, the hosts edged their way to the front in the latter stages of the match, before hanging on to the lead to consign the Jets to their first loss of the season.
The Jets though got off to the perfect start, crossing early to score through lock Jason Schirnack. The hard-running forward spotted a gap in the Warriors defence close to the line, and fullback Travis Robinson turned provider to see the Jets to an early 4-nil front.
Sharks winger Mitch Brown turned four into six with his conversion adjacent to the posts.
The late inclusion of first-grade regular Konrad Hurrell proved a spark in the hosts back-line, as the Warriors went about hitting back, and soon did so, through winger Ken Maumalo.
Maumalo finished off a sweeping play from the hosts, touching down to score with ease on his side’s left flank. New Zealand halfback Hingano couldn’t add the extras from the touchline, as the Jets maintained a two point advantage after a quarter of an hour.
Sharks Josh Cleeland and Junior Roqica would then feature, with the nippy five-eighth earning his side a repeat set, before the hard-hitting Fijian would be denied a try – the Warriors defence judged to have been obstructed in the lead up.
Not to be deterred by the referee’s whistle, the Jets continued to apply the pressure with their attack of the Warriors goal line. Substitute Jaline Graham’s determined run in the 26th minute was rewarded with a try, and Brown would again make no mistake from the tee.
In what was a first period dominated by the Jets, Brown would cross for the side’s third try of the half when he proved the beneficiary from a Graham long ball. Brown though was unable to add the extras from the side line.
Up 16 points to 4 on the cusp of half time, the Jets would earn a penalty close to the posts and opted to take the two points. Brown slotted the goal to see the Jets take an 18-4 lead into the sheds.
A second half double to the Captain Lauitiiti though would swing the momentum of the match, with Marata Niukore also crossing the stripe en route to a big Warriors comeback.
“The Warriors are a great team, they always have been, and especially here. We got off to a good start, we did what we wanted to do,” Jets captain Mitch Brown told Sky Sports.
“(But) a bit of ill-discipline, drop ball and silly penalties … They’ve got big guys with offloads, once they get that roll on they’re very hard to beat.”
After a tough road trip to Cessnock to tackle the defending premiers the Knights last week, and again in Round 3 versus the Warriors in Auckland, the Jets are in for another tough assessment away from home in their Round 4 fixture versus the Sea Eagles at Brookvale.
NEWTOWN JETS 18 –
TRIES: Schirnack, Graham, Brown | GOALS: Brown (3/4)
DEF. BY NZ WARRIORS 20 –
TRIES: Maumalo, Niukore, Lauitiiti (2) | GOALS: Hingano (2/4)