By Steve Greige at Belmore Sports Ground
Newtown’s experienced spine have proved the difference as the Jets beat Canterbury 38-22 in an entertaining encounter under Friday night lights at Belmore Sports Ground.
While winger Brett Lane and prop Ryan Verlinden both got doubles, it was former first graders Heath L’Estrange, Scott Dureau and Nathan Stapleton who orchestrated the crucial victory.
Skipper L’Estrange scored a try and threw the final pass for three others, while crafty halfback Scott Dureau set up three tries and fullback Stapleton slotted five conversions.
The Jets started the VB NSW Cup Round 20 clash the way they finished last week’s incredible comeback victory over Penrith scoring twice in the opening exchanges.
In the 5th minute backrower Ray Moujalli steamed onto a L’Estrange pass ten metres out to barge over right of the posts and former Shark Stapleton added the extras to make it 6-0.
Newtown extended their lead to 10-0 eight minutes later when ex Newcastle playmaker Dureau trickled a grubber into the Canterbury in goal and former Bulldog Brett Lane pounced on it millimetres inside the dead ball line to embarrass opposite winger Kayne Brennan who thought it was going out.
But the 11th placed Bulldogs ,who have been impressive in the past fortnight beating the Tigers and drawing with the Cutters, hit back with two tries in four minutes to lock things up at 10-all midway through the first half.
In the 18th minute prop Makahesi Makatoa reached out and planted it down next to the posts and captain Patrick Templeman slotted his 40th conversion of the season to reduce the margin to 10-6 and in the 22nd minute Doggies halfback Lindon McGrady threw a lovely spiral pass to get left centre Levi Dodd on the outside of the Bluebags defence and he fended his way over to score in the grandstand corner to tie things up.
The tide turned back Newtown’s way in the final 15 minutes of the first half with two controversial decisions from referee Damian Briscoe which had the Bulldogs skipper and fans barking mad.
In the 26th minute Dureau terrorised Brennan with a huge bomb and he knocked it on in front of his tryline but then a Jets player coming through appeared to knock it into Newtown winger Lane who was in front of him but the officials thought otherwise and awarded Lane his second try of the half for a 14-10 lead.
Just before the break the Jets were awarded a contentious penalty for stripping although it looked like a blatant knock on near the halfway.
Dureau then produced a 40 metre kick for touch which set them up in great field position and L’Estrange punished the Doggies with a great ball back on the inside which opened a huge gap for interchange front rower Saulala Houma to storm through and crash over for a crucial try. One of the competition’s leading point scorers, Stapleton converted to give the visitors a handy 20-10 lead over their old neighbours at half-time.
Canterbury got off to a horror start to the second stanza giving away back to back penalties and failing to complete their sets and as a result, the Roosters feeder club went further in front in the 44th minute when Houma, who seemed to be held up for an eternity, got a late offload to ex- Manly hooker L’Estrange and he burrowed over under the posts. Stapleton’s conversion made it 26-10.
The Bulldogs got one back in the 52nd minute when quick hands down the right edge from Templeman to impressive rookie backrower Adam Elliott put centre Ed Murphy through a gap 30 metres out and he stepped inside Stapleton to race over next to the sticks. Templeman’s conversion brought it back to 26-16.
Both teams’ traded similar converted tries during the next dozen minutes with their shifty hookers switching the ball back inside to rampaging forwards on the burst with prop Ryan Verlinden getting his first in the 58th minute while Doggies leading tryscorer David Minute scored under the posts in the 64th minute to make it 32-22.
Yet just when it looked like Canterbury were coming to get the Jets and maybe salvage a draw like they did in their round five battle at Henson Park, interchange player Chris Binge gave away a penalty for taking out Jets halfback Dureau after the kick and in the next set the Taree born pivot had the last laugh showing lovely soft hands to hold the ball up and put Verlinden threw a yawning gap and he steamrolled over the Bulldogs fullback to score his second much to the delight of the diehard Jets fans. Stapleton curved his 5th conversion through the uprights to make it 38-22 with ten to go.
However the crucial 16 point win did come at a cost with Jets five-eighth and Tongan International Samisoni Langi being helped from the field in the dying stages with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.
Newtown returns to Henson Park this weekend for their Reunion Day match against the Tigers while the Bulldogs will be back at Belmore during the daylight when they take on the Bears.
Newtown Jets 38 (B Lane 2, R Verlinden 2, S Houma, R Moujalli, H L'Estrange tries; N Stapleton 5 goals) def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 22 (E Murphy, L Dodd, D Minute, M Makatoa tries; P Templeman 3 goals) at Belmore Sports Ground.