The Newtown Jets have registered their first win of the 2018 Intrust Super Premiership NSW, defeating the St George Illawarra Dragons 24-12 at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
In front of a building crowd in Woolooware, the Jets proved too good in the final 50 minutes of the game; they came out on top after a scoreless opening 30. Edrick Lee ensured he was always around the football, while halfback Jesse Marschke pulled the strings effectively. Ultimately, scoring five tries to the Dragons' two, it was a relatively convincing victory.
A tense opening period resulted in no points for either side in the initial 15 minutes, but the first blow came the way of the Dragons when front-rower Damian Sironen found himself on the wrong end of a brutal hit. No sooner had the interchange forward taken the field than he was sent crashing down to earth, with Sironen leaving the field permanently after two minutes of game time.
Regardless, an impressive defensive showing continued for both sides, with the Dragons pressuring the Jets' line on multiple occasions. It was the Newtown side which would go closest, with winger Edrick Lee making a break down the western touch line - but his infield pass to Jesse Ramien found the hands of opposition winger Reuben Garrick, forcing a line dropout.
A set later, the Jets would break the deadlock through Scott Sorensen. The second-rower found himself on the eastern flank after Reubenn Rennie went close, wrapping around the ruck for to dive over untouched. Jesse Marschke's conversion attempt was waved away, with Newtown taking a 4-0 lead late in the half.
With three minutes remaining until the break, Newtown showed what they're capable of with some desperation play to score a second. Rennie fought to keep the ball alive deep in the Dragons' territory, offloading to Jesse Marschke, who toed it forwards to regather and nearly score himself. Wrapped up with the football, the No.7 also managed to get the ball free, with fullback William Kennedy cleaning up the ball for his third try of the season. The try again went unconverted, with 8-0 remaining the score until half-time.
Dragons lock Blake Lawrie was the first to squander an opposition in the second period, with opposite number Jack Williams looking likely to make him pay; Williams made a break before a Matt Evans fumble ensured both teams had an early missed opportunity.
The game would be 54 minutes old when the Dragons registered their first points, coming off the back of a clever Darren Nicholls play. With the Red V under pressure at the northern end, the side's halfback raced up to collect an intercept and find space, sending the ball to speedster Jai Field. Much to the surprise of the Dragons faithful, the No.1 was chased down by Edrick Lee - but a quick play-the-ball allowed Adam Clune to run from dummy-half to score immediately after. Field's conversion reduced the deficit to two points.
The narrow margin wouldn't last long, however, and soon after the Jets would find their third. It came via a scrum, with hooker Blayke Brailey crossing under the posts and Marschke adding the extras.
Lee was continuing to be heavily involved in the contest, and soon found himself crossing for his first four-pointer of 2018. The winger finished off a strong movement for Newtown and while Marschke's conversion attempt was unsuccessful, the side had an apparently insurmountable 18-6 lead with 12 minutes remaining.
The Dragons were not done with yet, however, and as allegations of a punch were fired out near to the Jets' line, a fiery finish was certain. Immediately following the incident, Jackson Ford muscled through the Newtown defence to earn what would be six more points for St George Illawarra late in the game.
A try to Wes Lolo - once again, not long after a scrum - would put the finishing touches on a solid showing for the Jets. With Marschke converting, it ensured the final 24-12 score line.
Newtown Jets 24 (S Sorensen, W Kennedy, B Brailey, E Lee, W Lolo tries; J Marschke 2 goals) def St George Illawarra Dragons 12 (A Clune, J Ford tries; J Field 2 goals)