Newtown Jets coach Greg Matterson has put their premiership celebrations on ice and reminded his players they’re representing their state as they prepare to face the Burleigh Bears in the NRL State Championship at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
The Jets scored a stunning Grand Final win over Wentworthville Magpies in extra-time at Bankwest Stadium last Sunday to hand the club its first title since 2012 and help erase the memory of last year’s Grand Final loss to Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
The win prompted wild celebrations from players on the field and while Matterson was happy for them to enjoy the moment he was also conscious there was one more job at hand to preserve NSW’s recent dominance in the match.
Since the concept started in 2014, clubs which compete in the Queensland competition have won two matches while clubs which compete in the Canterbury Cup NSW have won the last three consecutive years to hold a slight edge.
“We’re representing our state,” Matterson said.
“This club is all about the past and the present. A lot of old blokes would have come out here today and every time we pull on the jersey they respect the past.
“We had a few beers (to celebrate) but then it was back to work. That still gave us a decent week to prepare. At least we can plan Mad Monday next week.”
The Jets have named the same side that beat the Magpies in the Canterbury Cup NSW Grand Final which boasts plenty of NRL experience in William Kennedy, Sione Katoa, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Aaron Gray, Blayke Brailey, Scott Sorensen, Jayson Bukuya and Billy Magoulias.
The Jets have had a tough season – they were in tenth position coming into Round 20 with only four rounds remaining but the table was congested with only two points separating sixth and tenth – but they gained real momentum during the finals.
They came from behind to beat Mounties 44-20 in Week One, did the same thing again to beat the North Sydney Bears in Week Two and then held on against a fast-finishing St George Illawarra Dragons to make the Grand Final.
The Bears by comparison finished in the top four, earned a week off after beating Wynnum-Manly Seagulls 34-32 in Week One, were too strong for the Sunshine Coast Falcons 24-6 in Week Three and powered past the Seagulls 28-10 in the Grand Final.
The Jets boast plenty of strike power across the park with fullback William Kennedy in scintillating form after running for 248 metres in the Grand Final, having a hand in one try and scoring the match-winner in extra time.
Lock Billy Magoulias was also strong after running for 182 metres, laying on a try for Scott Sorensen and sparking the match-winning try for Kennedy after putting a clever kick over the top for unmarked winger Tyrone Phillips.
The Bears were well served in the Grand Final by fullback Kurtis Rowe, who scored two tries and saved another two to help secure the victory.
Prop Luke Page was strong after running for 166 metres backrower, Blake Leary was also solid after running for 139 metres and producing one try assist while halfback Jamal Fogarty ran for 188 metres and also had a hand in a try.
NRL State Championship Results
2014 – Northern Pride 32 def Penrith Panthers 28
2015 – Ipswich Jets 26 def Newcastle Knights 12
2016 – Illawarra Cutters 54 def Burleigh Bears 12
2017 – Penrith Panthers 42 def PNG Hunters 18
2018 – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 42 def Redcliffe Dolphins 18