Newtown Jets claimed their second win of the season, holding off a fighting Manly Sea Eagles side 26-20 at Brookvale Oval.
A dominant first-half display from Newtown saw them take an 18-point lead into the break and all early signed pointed to it being a one-way affair, however the visitors made some crucial errors in the second half to let Manly back into the game.
Jets five-eighth Josh Cleeland put in a classy performance, having a hand in two early tries, while fullback Mitch Brown was dominant, also playing his part in Newtown's first two tries of the game. Api Koroisau had an outstanding game in a losing side, scoring a try while inspiring a late comeback in the second half.
Some early ill-disicipline from the Sea Eagles allowed the Jets to march up the field in the first five minutes of the game. A slick backline movement saw Mitch Brown throw a bullet-like cut-out pass to winger Jacob Gagan, who streaked down the sideline and eventually passed inside for Matt Evans to score Newtown's first.
An error at the back by Manly fullback Ben Fritz allowed Newtown to earn a repeat set straight off the kick-off, threatening Manly’s line once again in an attempt to score the side's second. Moments later, an identical backline movement saw jacob Gagan cross in the corner to stretch the lead out to eight in almost as many minutes.
Some strong carries by Malakai Houma and Jesse Sene-Lefao allowed Newtown to gain some great field position and another opportunity to score their third try of the afternoon. After a series of offloads from one side to the other, Houma was able to reap the rewards, showing some outstanding footwork to crash over in the left hand corner to extend the Jets' lead to 12.
Newtown grabbed their fourth-straight try two minutes later, after halfback Arana Taumata accelerated through some poor Manly defence to help stamp the Jets' authority on the first half. Brown earned himself some appraisal from the crowd as he nailed his first conversion of the afternoon to extend the lead to 18 just after the half-hour mark.
Just when Manly had earnt themselves some valuable field position, back rower Addin Fonua-Blake and Newtown lock Jason Schirnack were both sin-binned after their involvements in a scuffle 10 meters out from Newtown's line. Manly were lucky enough to receive the penalty, which saw Api Korosau take full advantage and crash over from dummy-half to claim Manly’s first four-pointer of the game.
An outstanding offload moments later by back rower Kurt Capewell allowed Josh Cleeland to burst through the Manly defence and put in a grubber for Gagan, who managed to beat his counterpart to the ball and score his second of the afternoon.
After the first 40, Newtown had a comfortable 22-4 lead from a dominant first-half display.
A much more committed Manly side showed promising signs early in the second half, however it lasted little time and Kurt Capewell soon went over to score - courtesy of a late offload from his five-eighth Cleeland.
Fonua-Blake redeemed himself soon after coming back on the field, making a strong break through the middle of the ground, which then allowed Koroisau to put in a neat grubber which saw Dylan Kelly score their second.
Manly again maintained some grunt in attack, with some strong hit-ups by their forwards allowing them to march down the field in an attempt to gain back-to-back tries. Hugh Pratt crashed over from dummy-half and cut the lead to just two converted tries with just under 15 minutes remaining.
A break off a quick tap by Taumata almost confirmed the result for Newtown, but the fullback was caught 15 metres out from Manly’s line. Manly were able to hold out Newtown with some great scrambling defence, managing to force an error two tackles later.
Manly crashed over with 90 seconds left on the clock after some great lead-up play, with Api Koroisau nailing the conversion from the sideline to bring the defecit to just 6 points.
Some last-minute efforts by Manly to draw level weren’t enough and Newtown ran out eventual victors 26-20.
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