A committed defensive effort against a big and physical Warriors outfit saw the Newtown Jets through to this week’s Grand Final qualifier, with the Illawarra Cutters now standing between them and a place in the Intrust Super Premiership Grand Final.
The Jets came out all guns blazing to start the second 40-minutes last weekend, tries to Matt McIlwrick and Kurt Kara breaking an 8-all deadlock and pushing them out to a 12-point lead.
From there, despite a few anxious moments the Jets held firm, reaching the last four and putting themselves within 80 minutes of the ISP decider.
To get to the Grand Final however they will again need a concerted team effort against a Cutters squad boasting a wealth of NRL experience.
While the forward packs seem evenly matched, Illawarra boast the likes of Adam Quinlan, Kurt Mann and Taane Milne in the backline, with the young Jets outside backs needing to be defensively switched on at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
In the forwards the return of Jesse Sene-Lafao will provide a boost to Newtown’s chances but it could be in the halves where the Jets have an advantage they might be able to exploit, with Josh Cleeland and Fa’amanu Brown offering plenty of x-factor with ball in hand.
Cleeland in particular had a big say in proceedings last weekend, scoring an individual try and setting another one up for McIlwrick with a line-break just after half time, with more of the same needed if the Jets are to get over the line this weekend.
Edge backrower Anthony Moraitis also had perhaps his best game in Newtown colours last weekend with another strong display required from the local Sharks junior this time around.
The Jets and Cutters have met on two occasions this season, with the Illawarra side registering two convincing wins.
Back in round seven it was a 28-14 triumph to the Cutters at WIN Stadium, while in the return bout Illawarra again proved too good with a 38-14 victory in round 13.
The Jets v Cutters match is scheduled for a 5.15pm kick-off at Leichhardt Oval as the second game of a double header.
The first game at Leichhardt sees the minor premiers Mounties take on the Wests Tigers at 3.15pm, with the two winners to meet in the ISP Grand Final the following weekend. Both games will be televised live on Fox Sports.
See below some vision of the Newtown Jets win over the Warriors, their post-match celebrations and an interview with Jets forward Moraitis.
Also below is a link to a NSWRL.com feature story on Sharks backrower Kurt Capewell, a player missing this week but who has played a key role in Newtown’s successful season in 2016.
Jets v Warriors Finals Week 2 Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbNMoTi-HE4
Anthony Moraitis Post Match Interview Finals Week 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEDIp57lA-Q
Newtown Jets Victory Song Finals Week 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaUOhyIYSM8&spfreload=10
Kurt Capewell feature article – NRL.com: http://www.nswrl.com.au/news/2016/09/13/capewell_praises_jet.html