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Jets fly into ISP Grand Final

It came down to the last play, Panthers captain Kade Ellis being held up over the line, with the Newtown Jets holding on to score a thrilling 28-24 victory and win their way into the Intrust Super Premiership Grand Final.

In a match featuring a number of lead changes, the Jets surged in the second half, with two Briton Nikora tries pushing their advantage out to 10, but they were forced to defend grimly in the closing moments to secure the win and book their place in the competition decider.

Coming up against a Penrith side which was on a 13-game unbeaten streak, the win was an outstanding one for a Jets side which will now take plenty of confidence into next week.

After the Panthers had opened the scoring with a try down their right hand side, the Jets responded, Will Kennedy regaining his own kick before passing to Rueben Rennie, the centre then putting Bessie Aufuga-Toomaga over wide out.

Kyle Flanagan kicked the sideline conversion and despite having little of the ball in the early exchanges, the scores were level at 6-all.

The Panthers would edge in front again with a fortuitous try when the ball bounced around on the ground from a couple of loose passes but and when Liam Coleman accepted the last pass and dived over under the uprights the Penrith boys were up by six.

Again the Jets would bounce back and again Kennedy would play a huge part, this time the fullback slicing through and running 15-metres to score.

Flanagan was off-target with his kick at goal with the score 12-10 Panthers.

Now enjoying a better share of possession the Jets pressed coming into half time and with the siren sounding in the background, Kennedy would again play a role, throwing the last pass for Rennie to touch down.

Flanagan added the extra two points from the sideline and it was 16-12 to Newtown at the break.

The second half would start in a similar fashion to the first, a Jets error gifting Penrith field position and soon after they would capitalise, a clever off-load from hooker Wade Egan resulting in a try under the posts.

With the conversion it was 18-16 Panthers and now the Jets had all the work to do.

But fight back again they did, on the back of a repeat set of six Nikora crashed over, running straight over the top of his opposite number and the Jets had the lead once more, the Flanagan kick making it 22-18 Jets but with still more than 25 minutes of the match remaining.

In what was an entertaining, end-to-end contest, the Panthers had a try disallowed, then the Jets marched down the other end of the field, Flanagan placing a perfectly weighted grubber for Nikora who won the race to the ball to score his second.

Flanagan chipped over the simple conversion and the Jets were up 10 and 28-18.

But in the warm conditions no lead was safe and the Panthers edged closer when Penrith scored off a grubber kick of their own and once more it was game-on at 28-24 with 15 minutes left on the clock.

What would follow would be a frantic final period of the match, Penrith throwing plenty at the Jets, with the Newtown defence scrambling and holding them out.

On a couple of occasions they would come within inches of levelling up the scores, but a spirited Jets outfit would hold them at bay, claiming a memorable win to give themselves a shot at claiming the ISP title.

While Nikora was a second-half standout, claiming the man-of-the-match award for his efforts, the Jets had a number of outstanding performers, with Kennedy strong at back despite being hampered by an ankle injury, Blayke Brailey was non-stop in the middle of the field and both wingers in Sione Katoa and Aufuga-Toomaga, got through a mountain of work.

The Jets will now await the winner of the St George Illawarra v Bulldogs preliminary final, with the Grand Final scheduled for Leichhardt Oval next Sunday. Kick off will be at 3.00pm.


Briton Nikora 2, Will Kennedy, Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga, Rueben Rennie tries, Kyle Flanagan 4 goals


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