The Newtown Jets face the Intrust Super Premiership minor premiers Mounties in week one of the finals.
The Jets finished in fourth place after a stirring comeback at their last start, running in five tries to reverse a 38-12 deficit before registering a 40-38 win, with the victory setting up a clash with the ISP front runners at Pepper Stadium on Saturday.
The Jets have received great service from the likes of Fa’amanu Brown, Matt McIlwrick, Junior Roqica, Anthony Moraitis, Josh Cleeland and Jacob Gagan, with those five Sharks-contracted players named to play this weekend.
Kurt Capewell has been left of of the Jets team, however his status for Newtown is still unknown with the long-striding backrower likely to travel to Melbourne as Sharks 18th man for their final round match against the Storm.
The Jets v Mounties match kick off at 1.00pm and is the first of a double header to be played at Pepper Stadium on Saturday, with the second game seeing the Wyong Roos play the Canterbury Bulldogs.
See the Jets team list and a match report from the Newtown v Manly match last Saturday, courtesy of Newtown Jets media.
ISP Team List – Finals Week 1
Jets v Mounties
Saturday, September 3
Kick-off – 1.00pm
1 Jaline Graham
2 Travis Robinson
3 Keenan Yorston
4 Matt Evans
5 Jacob Gagan
6 Josh Cleeland
7 Fa'amanu Brown
8 Junior Roqica
9 Matt McIlwrick ©
10 Saulala Houma
11 Malakai Houma
12 Anthony Moraitis
13 Jason Schirnack
14 Kurt Dillon
15 Kurt Kara
16 Harrison Muller
17 Kenny Niko
18 Corin Smith
19 Brent Anderson
By Newtown Jets Media
The Jets turn on a Reunion Day tour de force
In what was probably the greatest-ever come from behind victory seen at Henson Park, the Newtown Jets defeated Manly-Warringah 40-38 last Saturday. The Jets had trailed the Sea Eagles 26-12 at half-time and 38-12 with less than 20 minutes left to play. Playing in front of an exuberant club Reunion Day crowd, Newtown scored five unanswered tries in the last 18 minutes and guaranteed themselves a top four finish in the Intrust Super Premiership.
To put this result in some perspective, the Jets were in fourth place up against Manly-Warringah who were in 11th position, and with no chance of making the top eight. Newtown came into this game with a lot of late team changes and a disrupted preparation, and an upset result was always a possibility.
The Jets scored a converted try early in the first half and then fell into an extended sub-standard performance where they had very little possession, made repeated fundamental errors and conceded several penalties. The Sea Eagles made the most of their opportunities and ran up a 26-6 lead by the 30th minute, with Newtown scoring a second converted try five minutes from half-time to go in at the break 26-12 in arrears.
Jets coach Greg Matterson admitted after the game that bearing in mind the impact of the late changes to Newtown’s team line-up, he was prepared for the worst in the second half. He emphasised to his players at half-time that they had scored two converted tries with very little possession, and he urged them to put more pressure on Manly’s kickers, to lift their work-rate and back up every break that was made.
Manly added two converted tries to their half-time lead and looked to be set for a runaway win. Newtown had put some pressure on the Sea Eagles at their end but Manly’s defence had held solid. The final twenty minutes have already been added to Newtown’s rich store of folklore. Jets hooker and captain Matt McIlwrick scored in the 62nd minute, and when he crossed for his second try eight minutes later which Fa’amanu Brown converted, the Jets’ collective self-belief surged and they started to play like a team with genuine purpose.
The big crowd on the northern hill was in uproar when stand-in fullback Corin Smith backed up a break by Junior Roqica to score under the northern end goal-posts, and Brown’s conversion made it 38-28 with eight minutes to play. The incredible fightback rolled on when makeshift backrower Travis Robinson touched down under the posts two minutes later, and another conversion by Brown had Newtown trailing 38-34 with five minutes remaining. The Jets forwards were making ground at will and Manly’s defence, so strong earlier in the second half, had become disorganised and ineffective. As if by some grand design, two minutes from full-time Fa’amanu Brown sent Manly defenders the wrong way and cut through to score near the posts. His conversion put Newtown into the lead by 40-38 and sent the crowd into partisan ecstasy. The Jets survived a late flurry from Manly to pull off one of the greatest rugby league escape acts likely to be seen at Henson Park.
The Jets coaching staff praised Matt McIlwrick’s leadership and work-rate, and also the tireless 80-minutes turned in by young front-rower Kurt Dillon. Junior Roqica ran riot in the last 20 minutes and played a big role in Newtown’s resurgence, while the hard-working Anthony Moraitis was also one of Newtown’s best on the day.
Saturday’s win now goes into the annals of history and the Jets must prepare for a Qualifying Final against the minor premiers, Mounties next Saturday (3rd September) at Pepper Stadium, Penrith at 1.00pm. Newtown will be marshalling their forces this week with several injured players becoming available for selection again.