On a weekend which featured the most oppressive Rugby League playing conditions for many years, North Sydney's stronger second half ensured the Bears a 24-12 win against Newtown at Henson Park on Saturday. The Jets and Bears are now the only 1908 foundation clubs still playing in the VB NSW Cup, with Balmain and Western Suburbs having adopted the merged Wests Tigers entity. Newtown led 8-6 at half-time on Saturday and had the opportunities in the first half to establish a bigger lead.


A good crowd attended the Jets' first home game of the season despite the unseasonal humidity. Halfback Ryley Jacks, on debut for Newtown, put up a perfectly-placed high kick into the corner in the 13th minute, where winger Paul Rokolati leapt spectacularly to catch the ball and score. Five minutes later the Bears responded with a converted try after Newtown had conceded a midfield penalty. Former Sea Eagle Michael Oldfield scored Newtown's second try from another virtuoso corner kick by Ryley Jacks. Neither Jets try was converted and Newtown led 8-6 at the break.


The Bears took control of the game through two converted tries in the first ten minutes of the second half. Norths deployed a better downfield kicking game that saw Newtown repeatedly trying to grind their way from their own end of the field, while the Bears kick returns often brought play back to the midfield area. Norths effectively won the battle of the forwards in the second half, utilising quicker play the balls that pushed the Jets defence backwards. The big Newtown forwards who had been so dominant two weeks before in Wollongong really felt the pinch of last Saturday's equatorial playing conditions. Late changes to Newtown's starting line-up also impacted upon the Jets' teamwork.


Newtown fought back into the game to trail 18-12 with seven minutes remaining, when halfback Jacks engineered Newtown's third try with another accurate corner kick that resulted in a try to centre Usaia O'Sullivan. The Bears guaranteed their win with their fourth try just minutes before fulltime.


The Jets were best served in the forwards by stand-in captain Andrew Pearn, Dylan Napa and Isaac Liu. Jack Bosden had his first game back from injury after last year's Grand Final triumph, while danger man Nafe Seluini was closely marked by the Bears. Halfback Ryley Jacks showed that his pin-point corner kicks will be a potent attacking weapon for Newtown this season. Winger Paul Rokolati impressed again with his strong running and athleticism. Saturday's game was notable for the fact that it was the first time that a female referee has officiated in a VB NSW Cup competition match at Henson Park.


The Newtown Jets are away from home for the next three games and this Saturday (30th March) take on the unbeaten Cronulla Sharks at Sharks Stadium, with the match timed for kick off at 3.10pm. This Sharks-Jets "West Side Story" encounter will be televised live on Fox Sports.