The Newtown Jets can count themselves as being rather lucky to come away with the competition points against Wentworthville at Henson Park last Saturday.


The Jets were saved by a dramatic 78th minute try by fullback Henare Wells, with winger Paul Rokolatis conversion giving Newtown a chancy 28-26 win. Wentworthville had led 20-12 at half-time after the Jets had turned in a sub-standard first half. Both teams were below full strength and the sunny weather attracted a healthy attendance to Henson Park, in stark contrast to the pouring rain and leaden skies of the previous home-game occasion.


Wentworthville scored a runaway try in the second minute of play, thanks to some shameful Newtown defensive efforts. The Jets showed all the signs of not being switched on to play with a succession of possession turnovers, missed tackles and wayward passes. Despite the unpromising start, Newtown clicked into gear around the 15th minute mark and scored two quick tries, one each to Henare Wells and Adam Henry. The Jets slipped back into their shoddy defensive habits in the games second quarter, as Wentworthville scored three more tries to lead 20-12 at the break.


The Jets reversed their trend in recent weeks of beginning the second half slowly, and in this game scored two converted tries soon after half-time. Hooker Nafe Seluini scored from close range and Henare Wells claimed his second, with Chris Taripos two conversions putting Newtown back into the lead by 22-20. Wentworthville regained the lead midway through the second half and the Jets errors and penalties didnt inspire confidence of any comeback. Wentworthvilles on-line defence held on the few occasions that the Jets looked likely to score. Henare Wells showcased his speed and talent for backing up midfield as he sliced through in the 78th minute for the equalising try. It was then left to winger Paul Rokolati to do the honours by kicking the match-winning conversion.


Both teams were certainly down in strength as is usually the case two-thirds of the way through the competition rounds and with the impact of injuries and representative commitments. Ben Jones made a useful return to playing duties after a lengthy absence due to a foot injury, and long-serving prop Khalid Deeb also returned after also being unavailable for several weeks due to injury.


The Newtown coaching staff made the post-match observation that the Jets might have been influenced by the absence of players with NRL experience on the Wentworthville team sheet. Wentys surplus of possession in the first half along with Newtowns tackle-shy performance would have been fatal against stronger teams. Josh Ailaomai and Brad Barrett were mentioned as being among Newtowns best players and Henare Wells three tries made a vital contribution to the Jets victory.


Congratulations to Newtowns team captain Tinirau Arona who has won selection in the NSW Cup representative team to play their Queensland counterparts as the main curtain-raiser to State of Origin III. The Jets face very tough opposition this Saturday (13th July) at Henson Park in the second-placed Newcastle Knights. This 18th round VB NSW Cup match gets underway at the usual kick-off time of 3.00pm.