In a weekend of NSW Cup matches where three of the top four teams were beaten, the fourth-placed Newtown Jets lost 38-10 to the Newcastle Knights at Harker Oval on Saturday.


The Jets have a bit of a history of not performing well in long-distance away games and they were in real trouble in this match when they trailed 22-0 at half-time. The Knights had scored twice from Jets handling errors inside their own quarter and poor defence gave the Knights their fourth try six minutes before half-time.


The Jets came out fired up at the start of the second half and scored in the 48th minute when fullback Henare Wells threw an excellent pass that sent winger Adam Henry over for a try. Newtown went desperately close to scoring on two other occasions that might have brought the Jets back into the game. Ryan Verlinden was penalised for a line-ball double movement and two minutes later Khalid Deeb surged across the line but his try was disallowed because of an infringement around the ruck area. The Knights made certain of victory in scoring from an orthodox backline movement and added another from a Jets corner kick that went awry, resulting in a 95 metres runaway try to the Knights. Big Ryan Verlinden made amends for his earlier missed try-scoring attempt when he barged over ten minutes out from full-time. The Knights then took advantage of some hesitant Newtown defence and scored their last try in the 79th minute of play.


Newtown paid a heavy price for a poor first half when the Knights forwards made a lot of ground midfield through some less than committed Jets defence. The recurring problem of poor finishes to sets of possession was obvious in the first half, when the Jets fought their way to the Knights end on four occasions but poor end of set decisions led to no worthwhile outcome being achieved. The Knights punished the Jets doubly-hard for two handling errors in their own quarter, and the Knights try close to half-time stretched to lead out to 22-0.


This was an important win to the Knights as they moved into second place at the expense of North Sydney who lost to Windsor on the weekend. The Newtown Jets remain in fourth place but must win both of their remaining competition games to ward off challenges from Windsor and the Auckland Vulcans.


The Newtown coaching staff considers that the will to win is certainly there in the Jets ranks, but there is inconsistency in their efforts on the field and their decision making is letting them down at critical times. There will be plenty of work done at training to address these issues as it is so important to ensure a top four finish in the NSW Cup finals structure. Ryan Verlinden was judged to be the best of the forwards while Henare Wells, although he did not add to his impressive seasons try tally, was very safe under several high kicks directed his way.


There is another VB NSW Cup double-header this Saturday, 24th August, at Henson Park. Competition leaders Cronulla Sharks take on Manly-Warringah at 1.00pm, while Newtown faces a danger game against the much-improved Wyong at 3.00pm.