By Brad Preston
The Newtown Jets claimed their first win of the 2014 VB NSW Cup season with a 30-22 win over the Wentworthville Magpies at a rain-drenched Henson Park.
New acquisition Arana Taumata was instrumental in the Jets’ victory, playing a hand in several of the Blue Bags’ tries and also adding ten points to their tally through some quality goal kicking.
The Magpies opened the scoring with an exchange which began with Evander Cummins slipping through on Newtown’s left edge. Cummins linked up with Justin Hunt who then put Api Pewhairangi in to score just adjacent to the uprights. Luke Kelly converted and Magpies took an early 6-0 lead.
The Jets seemed to be warming to the task and just five minutes later Taumata spotted some space in behind the defensive line where he grubbered for himself to score under the posts.
Taumata was instrumental in the Jets’ next try as he showed some brilliant skill, tapping a wayward pass forward with his feet to keep possession before sending Ryan Verlinden crashing over.
Wentworthville answered straight back through the combination of Cummins, Hunt and Pewhairangi. The three were involved in a sweeping backline movement, which sent Bureta Faraimo over for the first of two tries.
From the set of six after the Faraimo try, Magpies back-rower Danny Howard came up with a knock on in the play the ball. A couple of plays later Chris Taripo scored down the left edge for the Jets. Taripo’s unconverted try gave the Jets a 16-12 half time lead.
On Newtown’s first attacking opportunity after the break, Evander Cummins made a meal of a Samisoni Langi bomb, handing the Jets some dangerous field position.
Newtown made Cummins and his Magpies teammates pay for the mistake when big Saulala Houma crashed over. With Taumata’s conversion, the Jets lead 22-12.
Just when the Blue Bag fans started to warm their tonsils up for a victory song, Wentworthville scored back-to-back tries through Faraimo and Hunt to bring the score to 22-all in the space of five minutes.
With just over 10 minutes remaining on the clock the match was poised for something special and Shannon Gallant delivered.
Gallant produced one of the best try-saving efforts ever seen at Henson Park. The former Wests Tigers custodian came from the clouds to beat Ben Jones to a Justin Hunt chip ahead, stopping a certain try.
From the very next play Jets’ hooker Jordan Galloway ran 80 metres through the middle of the field to put his team in an attacking position. After Galloway’s tackle, the ball shifted left and found Saulala Houma for his second try of the afternoon, sending the Henson Park crowd into raptures.
After some intense exchanges in the dying minutes, the game was sealed by a penalty goal in the 79th minute to the man of the hour, Arana Taumata.
As the ball sailed over, Taumata saluted the Henson Park faithful as if to thank them for their support through the winless first few weeks of the competition.
For the Jets, David Harris was outstanding. He played just about every role for Greg Matterson during the 80 minutes. He popped up at first receiver, hit the ball up the middle and harassed the Wentworthville defence out wide.
Another pleasing aspect for the Jets is the burgeoning combination between Taumata and Langi. Now that these two look to have found their feet, better results should be coming sooner rather than later.
The Magpies’ three points should have gone to Brendan McKinnon. The young rake was committed in defence, controlled the ruck well and also played a starring role in a few of the Magpies’ tries.
In Round seven of the VB NSW Cup the Jets head to Remondis Stadium to take on the Sharks, while Wentworthville head home to host cross-town rivals Mounties in a three-match program at Ringrose Park.
Newtown Jets 30 (S Houma 2, A Taumata, C Taripo, R Verlinden tries; A Taumata 5 goals) def. Wentworthville Magpies 22 (B Faraimo 2, A Pewhairangi, J Hunt tries; L Kelly 3 goals) at Henson Park.