by Tony Dosen
The Newtown Jets overcame a disastrous start to easily beat the North Sydney Bears 32-14 in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW match at North Sydney Oval this afternoon.
From being down 14-nil after half an hour, the Jets piled on 32 unanswered points to put the Bears away, obtaining an iron grip on the Frank Hyde Shield and snapping a three-game losing streak in the process.
The first 20 minutes were dominated by the Bears, who came out of the blocks firing against a hesitant Jets side in the early exchanges.
Norths turned their early pressure to points when backrower Piki Rogers powered over from an Eli Levido short ball in just the fifth minute to open the scoring with Levido’s conversion.
The Bears doubled their lead when from the scrum win after Jets skipper Mitch Brown dropped a high Liam Coleman bomb, a Levido cross kick was tapped back by winger Abbas Miski for centre Latrell Robinson to go over untouched. Levido converted for the rampaging Bears to lead 12-nil.
The lead was extended when winger Matt Evans got his first try from good work down the left by Jordan Drew with Newtown’s first real foray into Bears territory five minutes from the interval. Luke Capewell converted and Newtown had some hope, being only 14-6 down at the break.
Newtown then really came to life Evans got his second try three minutes into the second half to bring the Jets back to 14-12 down with Capewell’s conversion.
The match was in the balance, with Capewell losing the ball in-goal thanks to a desperate Sitiveni Mocieireke tackle. The turning point came in the 54th minute.
A long Bears break through Rogers and Robinson down the left was intercepted by centre Lachlan Stein who quickly turned defence into devastating counter attack.
Stein fed Drew, who in turn sent sent Jets skipper Brown away on a 55 metre run to score at the other end of the field. Capewell converted and incredibly Newtown had hit the front at 18-14.
The 12-point turnaround knocked the mental stuffing out of the Bears.
With Josh Cleeland playing a starring role with both ball in hand and with a sound kicking game on his return from injury, Newtown took full advantage in playing superb field position for the rest of the match.
Poor discipline by the Bears saw Capewell give the Jets the upper hand with penalty goals in the 59th and 65th minutes to extend the lead to eight points.
Then big Saulala Houma barged over from close range after concerted attack from a Moceidreke spilt bomb to seal the two competition points with five minutes left.
A bone-crunching Kurt Kara tackle in the last minute from a Bears scrum win saw Coleman spill possession for Jacob Gagan to pick up the loose ball and score for an exclamation mark on the the win. Capewell converted to put the icing on the Newtown cake.
The Jets can regain fourth spot on the Intrust Super Premiership ladder when they take on Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval next Saturday, while the Bears travel to Brookvale Oval for a significant Northern Derby against Manly Warringah to keep their place in the top eight.
Newtown 32 (Mark Evans 2, Mitch Brown, Jacob Gagan, Saul Houma tries; Kurt Capewell 6 goals) def North Sydney 14 (P Rogers, L Robinson tries; E Levido 3 goals)