This was the first time that these two clubs have met at Henson Park and a big crowd took full advantage of Sydneys Spring-like weather last Saturday. The Jets led 20-10 at half-time and had to ward off a late challenge from the Tigers before pulling away to a substantial lead in the last ten minutes.
Five-eighth Ben Jones was the first to score when he sliced through the Tigers defensive line in the 7th minute. Winger Paul Rokolati scored and then converted his own try in the 11th minute after the Jets had turned on some high speed precision passing. In the 14th minute strongman forward Josh Ailaomai laid on a classy midfield off-load to Ben Jones, who in turn grubber-kicked ahead for the fast supporting Henare Wells. The speedster fullback toed the ball ahead twice before gathering in the high bouncing football and touching down for might well be the try of the VB NSW Cup season. Newtowns defence fell away badly to allow two tries to the Tigers in quick succession, and it was game on at 16-10 to the Jets after 26 minutes. Newtowns right-side winger Pierce Sapsford maintained his strong form with a try six minutes prior to half-time. Wests Tigers Kiwi international winger Matt Utai was sin-binned just before the half-time break.
Jets coach Greg Matterson praised his players at half-time for their clever ball-work and attacking initiative in running up a 16-0 lead, but he also rebuked them for undoing much of their good work by letting in two relatively soft tries that brought the Tigers right back into the game.
The Jets took what seemed to be a tight grip on the game with three tries in the third quarter, extending their lead out to 34-10. Giant back-rower Ryan Verlinden powered over early in the second half, while Sapsford and Wells each claimed their second tries after clever lead-up work by their team-mates. The Tigers refused to turn it up and scored two converted tries to get themselves back into the game, trailing by 34-22 with 11 minutes left to play. Hooker Nafe Seluini locked up the result for Newtown when he put Josh Ailaomai over next to the posts with 8 minutes remaining. Wests Tigers captain and fullback Sean Meaney was sin-binned by referee Liam Nicholls in the 74th minute, and big Jets centre Yileen Buddy Gordon wrapped up the proceedings with a bulldozing try in the last minute of the game.
The Jets coaching group commended their players for the energy and sharp precision of their attack in scoring nine tries against a team that was equal in points with Newtown on the competition table. The coaching staff indicated that there would be plenty of emphasis on communication in defence in upcoming training sessions to address the shortfalls that were evident on Saturday. Dylan Napa was praised for his personal discipline in not being provoked into a fracas just before half-time. The coaching staff nominated Kurt Kara, Josh Ailaomai, Dylan Napa and Tinirau Arona as being the best forwards, while Pierce Sapsford, Yileen Buddy Gordon and Ben Jones were rated as being the best of the backs.
The Newtown Jets are at home to keen rivals Manly-Warringah at Henson Park next Saturday (10th August), with this 22nd round VB NSW Cup match kicking off at 3.00pm.