Only a few short weeks ago, the Newtown Jets absolutely demolished Wenty in an embarrassing 50 to 24 result at Henson Park. Today’s Round 19 clash would be the Magpies shot at redemption at their Ringrose Park home ground.
Of great interest for Eels supporters this afternoon was the senior debut of Dylan Brown at halfback and Haze Dunster at left wing. Throw in other youngsters on the field today, such as Oregon Kaufusi, Greg Leleisiuao, Dane Aukafolau and Jaeman Salmon and you have examples of the youth coming through the Parramatta grades. (Please note, Ray Stone is currently on the injured list.)
Unfortunately it was an inauspicious start for the Wenty team today. Leleisiuao lost the ball on the kick return in the first possession for the Magpies, and the first try was on the board for Jets winger Aufaga-Toomaga only three tackles later.
The next two possessions for Wenty fared just as poorly, with the ball turned over on the first and second tackles. The running was all with the Bluebags as they converted possession into points with a try beside the posts by lock Magoulias taking the score out to 10 nil after only 13 minutes.
Kane Evans began to play a dominant role through the middle and was rewarded with a try beside the posts following a powerful charge off a quick play the ball in the Jets quarter. The conversion had the scores at 10 to 6 with just over 20 minutes left in the first half.
On the back of a better platform from his forwards, Salmon found himself in open space only to be thwarted by the Jets fullback. Dylan Brown was soon making his mark on the game, taking on the line and bobbing up in support. He and Jaeman Salmon were combining well and they needed to, with the Jets halves, Williams and Flanagan creating plenty of opportunities themselves.
After defending solidly for the latter part of the first half, the Magpies let themselves down in conceding a soft try to Jolliffe running on to a Flanagan pass through the middle of the ruck. The conversion saw the Jets head to the dressing rooms with a 16 to 6 lead.
Newtown extended their lead just ten minutes into the second half. A left side shift 40 metres out saw the attack get outside the Wenty defence and Tamou scoring in the corner. A great sideline conversion had the score hitting 22 to 6 with just under half an hour to go.
Undisciplined defence from Newtown afforded the Magpies plenty of possession and territory via a string of penalties. Wenty took full advantage of the opportunities with Jaeman Salmon scoring a smart try darting out from dummy half, then Evans scored his second try off another massive charge. The scoreboard showed 22 to 18 with just on twenty minutes left.
Surprisingly, that scoreboard wasn’t troubled again for the rest of the match. The Magpies threatened the Jets line numerous times, but the defence held solid. Some unfortunate decisions or passes from dummy half proved costly, but the players on both teams deserved praise for an entertaining game of Sunday arvo football.
For the Magpies, Kane Evans was easily best on field in his strongest performance of the season. He created havoc with every charge, and when congratulated after the game, was more concerned with the loss rather than his own form.
Brown and Salmon look to be a promising halves pairing. The club could be playing them as a combination in the Eels Jersey Flegg team, and strengthen the team’s claims to the title. However, the club is looking at their pathway to first grade and giving them experience in senior football.
It was an impressive first outing for Brown. He distributed the ball well, often taking it right to the line, and wasn’t afraid of taking a hit. Furthermore, it was difficult to fault his defence, which has always been one of his strengths. He over-cooked a couple of kicks today, but that would be nitpicking his performance.
The other debutant, Haze Dunster, performed strongly with good carries in his kick returns and a number of strong charges through the ruck. He had few opportunities out wide and is still learning his wing craft. Haze has been playing both wing and fullback in Flegg and is obviously seen as a player of the future by the club.
For those tracking Kaufusi, the young tyro was playing as an edge forward. There weren’t many attacking opportunities today, but he maintained his aggression in defence. Leleisiuao presented a challenge for the Jets in every carry, but he has a bit to learn with his positional play in defence.
Final Score – Jets 22 defeated Magpies 18