Illawarra have produced a stunning comeback over the Newtown Jets, overcoming a 16-0 deficit to record a 38-34 victory.
Tyrone McCarthy was massive for Illawarra as the pick of the forwards amongst a group that were dominant in the second half, but the game well and truly went down to the wire.
It was a horror start for the Jets, who knocked the ball on in the opening seconds of the game and were forced to defend on their line early. They defended the error successfully, and abolished the poor start by converting with their first opportunity on the attack when James Tuitahi showed brute strength to finish off a left-to-right shift.
Another exciting try followed just moments later, when the Jets made a raid down the left sideline before the ball went through the hands of various Newtown players, only for Jesse Ramien to finish the job in a 30 metre dash to the line.
The class of Daniel Mortimer gave Tuitahi his double when the former threw a beautiful cut-out ball to his winger, who strolled over untouched to increase their lead to 16-0 after Fa’amanu Brown faded the ball through the posts.
A much needed try to Illawarra followed after Tyrone McCarthy turned a ball into the bread basket of Josh Kerr, who was able to power his way over the line and score, but an error off the kick-off set allowed Newtown to hit straight back through Matt Evans.
Illawarra’s kick-off then travelled out on the full, but thankfully didn’t pay for the error, and were actually next to score after a McCarthy bust earned them field position. The Jets then knocked on Shaun Nona’s kick, and Jacob Host crashed over the next set.
The points dried up until the final 10 seconds of the match, where Illawarra cut the deficit to only six when they went to the blind side and Jesse Dee put in a perfect grubber for John Tohi to pounce on.
The next try was scored in the exact same corner, but from the Jets instead of Illawarra when a Matt Evans grubber rebounded off Matt Dufty, and Edrick Lee somehow re-gathered and planted the ball down without going out.
Illawarra refused to go away, and despite again kicking off out on the full, they were able to score next through the acceleration of Patrick Herbet, before they locked up the scores the very next set when Adam Clune strolled over adjacent to the posts.
Dufty planted the ball down in the right corner, but was penalised for an obstruction and denied a chance to take the lead, but he didn’t make any mistake the next time around as he charged onto an inside ball and stepped his way through Newtown to give his side the points advantage for the first time in the match.
Lee set up arguably the try of the season to give the Jets a sniff, when he perfectly chipped the ball at pace, re-gathered, and gave if off for Manaia Cherrington to score under the posts.
The match went down to the final play of the game, but Illawarra were able to defuse the situation and win the game.