Jets into Preliminary Finals
by NSWRL

Newtown Jets have booked themselves a spot in the Canterbury Cup NSW Preliminary Finals after hanging on for a thrilling 30-28 win over the North Sydney Bears at Leichhardt Oval yesterday.

The Jets looked to be in all sorts of trouble after the Bears scored three unanswered tries to take a 12-0 lead to start the match but came home strongly.

The Bears had a chance to send the match into extra time after centre Billy Smith scored a late try but halfback Drew Hutchison missed a conversion attempt from in front.

It was a tough day with the boot for Hutchison who only managed two goals from six attempts even though the Bears outscored the Jets six tries to five.

“I thought he was going to slot it for sure and we were going to have to go for a field goal but he missed it and so that was it,” Jets forward Billy Magoulias told nswrl.com.au

“It always helps when the other team misses their goal kicks. It gave us a chance to stay in touch so it definitely worked in our favour.”

Magoulias, who had a taste of NRL experience this season, was one of the standout players for the Jets after running for 132 metres and proving too strong for the Bears defence.

He helped spark a crucial try in the first half to reduce the deficit to 20-12 after charging through a gap before offloading for Tyrone Phillips who in turn found Jack Williams in support.

He saved an even better play for the 70th minute after combining with Sione Katoa to score a long range try to put the Jets in front 30-24 and on track for an unlikely win.

“We started off slow and we kind of got into the groove with things and played with a bit more shape and played a bit more football which helped us get down the field a little bit better,” Magoulias said.

“Then we came home which was good.”

The Bears started the match strongly after scoring three tries in the first 12 minutes but the lead stayed at 12-0 with Hutchison unable to land a conversion.

The Bears extended their lead to 14-0 on the back of a penalty goal before winger Tyrone Phillips scored a long range try to get the Jets on the scoreboard.

Bears backrower Sitlili Tupouniua, who had a huge game for the losing team, grabbed his second try of the game to extend the lead to 20-6 before Williams scored to give the Jets hope.

Fullback William Kennedy, who was another hero for the Jets after running for 180 metres, then scored a double to put the Jets in front for the first time 24-20.

Bears winger Asu Kepaoa returned serve to lock the scores up at 24-all – Hutchison’s conversion bounced off the uprights – to set up a grandstand finish.

The Jets, who lost last year’s Grand Final to Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, will now face Minor Premier St George Illawarra Dragons at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium for a spot in the 2019 decider.

“I don’t know who’s going to run out for them, during the year is different because you’ve got first grade and stuff,” Magoulias said.

“(As for us) we kind of did the same thing last year. We fluffed around too much during the season and then we came home strong.

“We need to turn it on and when we do turn it on we’re a good side.”