Club: Newtown Jets
Record: 11-12-1 (-51)
Players Used in 2014: 36
Season Highlight: Their stunning 31-30 comeback win in Round 19 over the eventual Premiers, the Penrith Panthers.
Season Lowlight: A 20 point loss to Manly in Round 22 when the Jets still controlled their own finals fate.
Summary: The Newtown Jets will look back on season 2014 with disappointment, with the proud club failing to make the finals for the first time in recent memory.
After putting up a strong defence of their title in 2013 only to bow out in the finals, Newtown were expected to once again feature in finals calculations at the beginning of the year. But a terrible start to the season, where they only won one of their first eight games, saw the Jets placed in a precarious position from which they never fully recovered.
In their true fighting style, Newtown made a valiant attempt at salvaging their season winning seven of their next eight games including strong victories over North Sydney (44-22), Wyong (34-8), Illawarra (42-22) and Mounties (36-18), before winning only three of their remaining eight games to finish the season just two points outside the top eight.
The Jets were actually a chance of making the finals heading into the final round of the regular season, but a loss to the Knights and other results going against them cut their late season resurgence short.
Despite the disappointment, there were still plenty of reasons for Bluebags fans to smile this season but none more so than a thumping Frank Hyde Shield victory over old foes the North Sydney Bears.
With both teams occupying the last two spots on the VB NSW Cup ladder heading into the first match, the sense of occasion spurred Newtown into action with the Jets setting up a commanding 44-22 victory with a first-half blitz that saw them lead 32-0 at the break. A month later the teams would meet again with Newtown proving too strong once again for the Bears with a 38-16 victory that saw them secure the Frank Hyde Shield by a total margin of 82-38.
Newtown also featured in arguably the game of the season against eventual Premiers Penrith in Round 19 at Allianz Stadium.
With Penrith having won their previous eleven games, including a 36-20 victory over the Jets only a week earlier, the Panthers were expected to prove too strong for Newtown and looked headed for their 12th straight win when they lead 30-6 heading into the final quarter of the match. In an incredible turn of events the Jets somehow lifted themselves off the canvas to score 25 unanswered points in just 14 minutes to record one of the most remarkable victories in VB NSW Cup history.
Newtown earned themselves the title of ‘comeback kings’ towards the end of the season with a number of come from behind victories and almost pulled off another miracle against Newcastle in the final round of the season when they trailed 26-8 with only six minutes remaining before scoring three quick fire tries with Scott Dureau missing the sideline conversion that would have levelled the game.
An amazing statistic regarding the Jets season is that they tasted success against each of the sides that finished inside the top eight except for the Newcastle Knights, and as we mentioned above, they came quite close there also. I guess what this would tell you is that Newtown lost too many games against sides that they should have beaten, hence why they missed the eight themselves.
Newtown had a number of strong performers throughout the season with Ryan Verlinden, who won the Jets Player of the Year award, Heath L’Estrange, Brett Lane (Jets leading try scorer) and Arana Taumata (Jets leading points scorer) leading the way.
Others such as Saulala Houma, David Harris, Rhyse Martin and Andrew Pearn all had decent years in the royal blue and in the case of Houma he was rewarded with a one year deal at Cronulla for 2015.
And speaking of the Sharks, next year will see the Newtown Jets become the feeder team for the Cronulla Sharks, after the Sydney Roosters ended their nine-year association with the club in favor of partnering with the Wyong Roos.
Conclusion: The Jets just spotted the competition too big of a start after a sluggish beginning to the year, but in true Bluebags fashion they never gave up and were still in with a shot of playing finals late in the year.