In a high quality and exciting game of rugby league the Newtown Jets have moved to within one game of a second consecutive Grand Final appearance with a nail-biting 30-28 victory over the North Sydney Bears.
Battling back from 14-0 and then 20-6 after the Bears had dominated most of the first half, a late opening period try to skipper Jack Williams gave the Jets hope at 20-12 at the break, with the Newtown side showing great commitment and resilience to come home over the top of their rivals late in the game.
The Bears showed more energy early and the signs weren't good for the Jets who couldn't control the big North Sydney forwards, four first half tries a clear display of their opponents dominance.
Revved by a half time address from coach Greg Matterson, the Jets responded, their defence stiffening and as a result the momentum shifted in their favour, Will Kennedy, who was brilliant at the back, crossing for a double as Newtown grabbed the lead.
The first try came after a clever off-load from backorder Siosifa Talakia, the second backing up a Braydon Trindall line break and after Trindall converted both four-pointers the Jets had an unlikely 24-20 lead.
The Bears replied, levelling the scores at 24-all, until a Trindall penalty goal put the Newtown side back in front 26-24 with 14 minutes of the match remaining.
Inside the final 10 minutes the Jets appeared to have sealed the result, man-of-the-match Billy Magoulias sending Sione Katoa on a long run downfield, before backing up and scoring the try himself.
Trindall’s kick bounced off the upright and was waved, away giving the Bears some hope and that’s all the encouragement they needed, a long range try down the left hand side, Billy Smith running around to plant the ball down close to the posts, and it seemed as if the game could be headed to extra time.
Unfortunately for North Sydney and their kicker Drew Hutchison, the simple conversion was pushed wide and the Jets had a two-point lead with under three minutes left on the clock.
Despite a few anxious moments the Jets would hold on, the win seeing them progress to the Grand Final qualifying match against the St George Illawarra Dragons next weekend.
For the Jets the entire team did their job on a warm Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt Oval, with Magoulias outstanding.
His ball playing ability caused the Bears all sorts of problems, Kennedy at fullback was another to stand out, while Toby Rudolf added plenty of grunt in both attack and defence in the middle of the field when coming into the game off the interchange bench.
Special mention also to Teig Wilton, playing the second half in the unfamiliar position of centre, the youngster playing a pivotal role in the Newtown win.
The Jets now move on to face the Canterbury Cup minor premiers in the Dragons next Sunday in a match to be played at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah, with kickoff at 3.10pm.
Will Kennedy 2, Tyrone Phillips, Billy Magoulias, Jack Williams tries, Braydon Trindall 5 goals