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Jets cut loose against rusty Knights

The Newtown Jets recorded one of their biggest wins for several seasons with their 64-24 demolition of the Newcastle Knights at Henson Park on Saturday.
Jets cut loose against rusty Knights
by NRL

The Newtown Jets recorded one of their biggest wins for several seasons with their 64-24 demolition of the Newcastle Knights at Henson Park on Saturday. This was an unexpected result - the Knights were in good form and in third position on the VB NSW Cup competition table, and had easily accounted for Newtown in their second round encounter up at Toronto. This was the last of a run of four consecutive home games for the Jets and the win reinstates Newtown in fourth position, as well as providing a substantial boost to their points for and against.

The Jets made an ideal start to the match, running up an 18-0 lead after only 12 minutes through two tries to centre Justin Carney and one to halfback Daniel Mortimer. The Jets led 24-6 after 20 minutes when NSW Under 20's representative prop Kane Evans powered through a wall of Knights defenders. Newtown's own defence looked alarmingly fragile as the Knights surged back into the game to trail by 24-18 after 30 minutes. Smartly-engineered tries to centre Adam Henry and tall winger Daniel Tupou, plus a five-goal haul to five-eighth Mark Kheirallah, gave the Jets a more robust 34-18 lead by halftime.

Newtown's coach Greg Matterson impressed on his team at the break that the only way the Knights could get back into the contest was if the Jets invited them back in through lack of discipline, penalties and timid defence. He urged his players to move up off the line quickly in defence and to put maximum pressure on the Knights kickers.

The Jets began the second half in the best way as Mark Kheirallah sliced through confused defenders to score after five minutes, and Daniel Mortimer collected his second try at the 10th minute mark of the second half after a sharp exchange of passes at the Knights' end. Long-striding Daniel Tupou went close after a great midfield run, but a Newtown penalty and subsequent Newcastle try kept the Knights' hopes flickering when they trailed 46-24 after twenty minutes. Newtown's captain Khalid Deeb, playing confidently again after recovering from injury, put Jack Littlejohn over to score to wrap up the game for the Jets with 14 minutes left to play. Second-rower Tom Symonds set Littlejohn up for his second try, and winger Sam Latu grubber-kicked into the in-goal for Justin Carney to triumphantly claim his third try right on fulltime. Mark Kheirallah laid it on for the exultant crowd by converting from the sideline to complete Newtown's scorecard.

Coach Greg Matterson noted that the team had prepared well for this game and worked hard on shifting the ball faster to the outside backs than in previous games. The Jets made the most of their opportunities and had played smarter when in possession. Their flying start had the Knights back-pedalling and despite some defensive lapses in the first half, had fought back to be in a winning position by halftime. The Jets had recorded a strong completion rate but will need to work hard on addressing defensive weaknesses. The coaching staff gave special mention to centre Justin Carney, judged to be man of the match, and also to five-eighth Mark Kheirallah who scored a try and kicked ten goals. They also recognised the strong performances turned in by all the forwards.

The Newtown Jets travel south to Wollongong next Saturday (19th May) to play the St George-Illawarra partnership club, the Illawarra Cutters, at WIN Stadium No. 2 at 3.00pm. The Cutters are most certainly a danger team, after forcing a 22-all draw with competition leaders Canterbury-Bankstown at Belmore last Saturday. The Cutters coach, former international Paul "Mary" McGregor, claims that his team is just beginning to click as a cohesive unit and that the draw against the Bulldogs is an indicator of better results to come.

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