The Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles have moved to within a point of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW top eight with a stunning 42-18 trouncing of a very disappointing Newtown Jets in their match at Henson Park this afternoon.
Blacktown’s third win for new coach Steve Hales was achieved despite not having most of the football throughout – particularly in the first half.
Blacktown started the match on the front foot after just 90 seconds when - after Newtown coughed the ball up in the first set of six tackles from the kick-off - hooker Joey Lussick burrowed over from dummy-half to score from the turnover set. Jackson Hastings converted from close range to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.
After Newtown had the majority of possession and field position over the next 10 minutes for no result, Blacktown managed a repeat set against the run of play from a goal line drop out in the 13th minute.
At the end of he repeat set, a right side spread was finished off by winger Maliko Falino for a try iin the corner. Hastings converted from the touchline to double Blacktown’s lead to 12-0.
After this try, Newtown again set up camp inside the Blacktown 20-metre area on the back of an increasing wealth of possession and field position.
This was rewarded in the 26th minute after a further repeat set was earned after a ricochet from a Penani Manumalealii kick. Two tackles later, Jets prop Kurt Dillon barged over from close range to get the home side on the board. Matt Evans converted and Blacktown led 12-6.
Dillon then dropped the ball on the first tackle from the restart to hand possession back to Blacktown on a plate. Three tackles later, lock Jamil Hopoate strolled through poor Newtown goal-line defence to score almost untouched. Hastings converted to extend the visitors’ lead to 18-6.
On the back of a 6-1 penalty count and 6-1 scrum count in their favour in the first half – plus a Blacktown completion rate of an abysmal 49 per cent in the first stanza at just six of 13 sets – Newtown again proceeded to dominate the rest of the first half.
The Jets’ squandered their dominance with poor last tackle options in the last 10 minutes of the half until finally, just two minutes from half time, giant interchange prop Saulala Houma marked his 100th game in Newtown colours by crashing over to score near the posts from another repeat set. Evans converted to leave Blacktown with an 18-12 lead at the break.
The Sea Eagles started the second half well when six minutes into the second stanza, a right side spread saw the ball go through the hands of fullback Pita Godinet for experienced centre Jonathan Wright to score wide out. Hastings made no mistake to give the visitors a 24-12 lead.
Blacktown then took full advantage the Jets standing off in defence 10 minutes later when half Cameron Cullen burst through the Newtown defence and dashed 35 metres to score. Hastings added the extras for a 30-12 lead.
The Sea Eagles then made sure of the two competition points with 16 minutes left when a long pass from Cullen found Hastings to the left, who in turn fed Godinet injecting himself into the backline for the fullback to send centre Brad Parker away for a sweetly worked try in the corner. Hastings again converted for a 36-12 lead.
By this stage with far better control than in the first half, Blacktown were breaking the Newtown defensive line almost at will and on the next set from the restart, a left-side raid down the blind saw Godinet again make another break.
Grubbering behind the cover defence for himself, Godinet picked up and passed to Parker who raced away for his second try in two minutes behind the posts. Hastings completed a perfect day with the boot for a thumping 42-12 lead.
The well-beaten Jets at least had the last word in the final minute when they finally got enough football for five eighth Leigh Higgins to score a neat solo try under the posts. Evans converted as the final siren sounded to close out the 42-18 scoreline.
Much maligned after enduring the trauma of the sacking of coach Pat Weisner at Easter and the mass player walkout that followed, the Blacktown Workers’ Sea Eagles are now poised to make a grandstand charge at the finals.
Today’s win now sees Steve Hales’s men on 12 points, just one point behind the Jets on 13 with a bye to come next week.
For their part, the Jets - now clinging to eighth spot by a thread – face a must-win game against the bottom-placed Wests Tigers next Saturday to keep their place in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW top eight.
Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 42 (B Parker 2, J Lussick, M Filino, J Hopoate, J Wright, C Cullen tries; J Hastings 7 goals) def Newtown Jets 18 (K Dillon, S Houma, L Higgins tries; M Evans 3 goals)