The Newtown Jets faced Canterbury Bulldogs in Round 1 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW. Having narrowly missed out on the finals in 2015, the Jets looked to make a statement with a win over last year’s semi-finalists.
Notable kick returns from fullback Brad Abbey laid the platform for strong sets of six for the Bulldogs, with giant Shaun Lane also impressing with some strong carries and offloads helping his team work their way up the middle of the park.
The Jets wily halfback Fa’amanu Brown had his fierce running game on display early, threatening the line multiple times, but it was his providing abilities that would pay dividends as the halfback's kicking game earned him a try assist. This was accompanied by some clever offloads and passes from the biggest name on the park in Joseph Paulo who also bagged a try assist late in the second half.
Reubenn Rennie opened the scoring for the Bulldogs in the 11th minute when upon receiving the ball, 10 metres out from the Jets' tryline, he stepped off his left foot to beat a sliding defence and placed the ball down with barely a hand laid on him. Kerrod Holland added the extras to take the lead out to a converted try.
This would prove to be the only points posted in the first half as the game became a real arm-wrestle between two defensively strong sides. Scores at halftime stood Canterbury 6 Newtown 0.
The opening quarter of the second half kicked off in much the same fashion, with both sides guilty of squandering opportunities. Canterbury could have scored twice, only for ball handling to let them down close to the line. But a quick Bronson Garlick scoot from two metres out saw the hooker crash over in the 52nd minute and the try was converted again by Holland to take the Bulldogs lead out to 12.
The Jets hit back quickly in the 55th courtesy of a glorious dash from Matt Evans, who broke the Bulldogs' line on his own 20 and raced 80 metres down-field to post first points for the Jets. Paulo added the extras to slice the gap between the two teams as the scores stood Bulldogs 12 Jets 6 with 25 minutes to play.
Canterbury scored again in the 67th courtesy of some fortuitous play as the Jets failed to nullify a chip kick from Matt Frawley. The ball bounced off a Jets chest to fall into the awaiting arms of Canterbury's Lindon Mcgrady, who immediately passed the ball wide for his unmarked winger, Tyrone Phillips, to cross over untouched. This time Holland was unable to add the extras from the sideline with the Bulldogs 10 points ahead with 13 minutes to play.
However, once again, the Jets were quick to hit back with a try of their own, this time through a deft grubber kick from Brown that crossed the path of forward Kurt Capewell who grounded the ball on the Jets' left side. Paulo was unable to convert the try and the scores stood at Canterbury 16 Jets 10 with 10 minutes to go.
The Jets were at it again in the 77th when a dummy from Paulo saw a rushing Bulldogs defence leave the Jets winger Gagan unmarked. Paulo sent a 20-metre spiral pass to Gagan’s chest and the winger made no mistake placing the ball down out wide. Paulo, riding a wave of confidence, slotted the conversion attempt from the sideline to give the home fans hope of a late comeback with three minutes still to play.
But, the Bulldogs held on the save a point as the fast finishing Jets failed to finish off their opponents with the scores standing 16-all at the final whistle. Both teams can be happy with a point in a tough contest in Newtown that saw both sides display their defensive credentials.