The Newtown Jets have endured a courageous second-half comeback from the Wentworthville Magpies to claim a tense 22-18 win at Ringrose Park on Sunday afternoon.
Leading 16-6 at half-time, the Jets very nearly gave up a comfortable advantage for the second time in two weeks as the Magpies stormed home.
But despite playing well below their best, the Jets showed enough class in key moments to secure a hard-fought victory and entrench themselves in the top four of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.
For the 11th-placed Magpies, the result is a marked improvement given they were thumped 50-24 by the Jets three rounds ago and also suffered a heavy defeat against the Dragons last weekend.
It initially seemed like another blowout was imminent when the Jets struck just two minutes into the match. After rolling up-field in the first set of the game, they forced a Wentworthville error and went straight on the attack.
With a slick shift to the right, Newtown scored through winger Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga, who was the beneficiary of an exceptional one-handed offload from centre Aaron Gray.
Halfback Kyle Flanagan couldn't convert from the sideline; the score remaining 4-0 in the Blue Bags' favour.
The Jets then turned up the heat, again motoring into enemy territory with ease following the restart. They earned another offensive chance from some strong defence that saw Magpies winger Haze Dunster bundled into touch.
Though the visitors didn't capitalise on that occasion, their right-edge attack looked incredibly dangerous.
However, Newtown's next try came right up the middle. Lock Billy Magoulias showed immense strength and determination to carry several defenders across the line and ground the ball.
Flanagan knocked over the simple goal attempt and extended the Jets' lead to 10.
Newtown failed to complete the next set after scoring and handed the Magpies an opportunity to reduce the deficit. They gleefully accepted through a rampaging Kane Evans.
Fullback Abbas Miski calmly added the extra two points and the home team was back in the contest.
Wentworthville perked up following the try and nearly notched another when five-eighth Jaeman Salmon burst into the backfields, but he was contained Jets fullback William Kennedy.
While the Magpies had all the momentum, they lacked the finesse to turn it into points. Newtown weathered the storm and landed a telling blow right before the half-time break – a third four-pointer.
Prop Jaimin Jolliffe careered into the in-goal area after a lovely inside pass from Flanagan ripped open the Magpies' defence.
The halfback converted the try he created, putting his side ahead 16-6.
When Tyla Tamou streaked down the left touchline and crossed for the Jets in the 48th minute, the outcome appeared obvious. But Wentworthville continued fighting and quickly nabbed back a converted try via Salmon to remain in the hunt at 22-12.
Evans recorded a deserved double five minutes later, and the Magpies were unexpectedly within four points.
The Magpies almost tied the games when Miski burrowed over the line, only for the Jets to desperately hold him up.
A frantic last five minutes ensued as Wentworthville threw everything at Newtown in the hopes of stealing a famous win. The Blue Bags remained solid, however, and survived the scare.
The Jets take on the ladder-leading Penrith Panthers at Henson Park in round 20 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, while the Magpies travel to Newcastle to take on the Knights.
Match: Magpies v Jets
Round 19 -
Venue: Ringrose Park