Newtown travelled to a cold and very windy Olympic Park to take on a Storm outfit who have enjoyed some big victories at home this season.
Melbourne chose to kick off and run with the wind in the first half. Within the first minute the Storm had given away two successive penalties, allowing Newtown to go on the attack early. On the last tackle, Ford opted to run but was caught before he could create an opportunity for his outside men.
Both teams were penalised early for ruck infringements. After one such penalty against Newtown, Melbourne attempted a kick for touch but were unable to do so. Newtown immediately spread the ball from the left wing to the right, but were bundled into touch on the first tackle.
On the last tackle of the set from the scrum, Kostjasyn gave a short flat pass from dummy half to Widdop who was unable to break through the Jets goal line defence. Newtown knocked the ball on four tackles later. The ball was picked up and passed to O’Regan who stepped around some loose defence, threw a dummy inside before scoring next to the right upright. Widdop converted the try giving the Storm a 6-0 lead after 12 minutes.
It took five minutes for Newtown hit back after a brilliant flat cut out pass from Ford creates an overlap and puts Savage over in the right corner. The conversion attempt from out wide was unsuccessful.
On the first set from the restart, Foran attempted to put in a kick downfield, but it came off the legs off a Storm defender. Guerra regathered the loose ball and ran 30 metres to score out near the left corner. The conversion attempt was again unsuccessful from out wide.
Tempers started to flare late in the first half between both packs of forwards. After one such fracas, Newtown received a penalty and immediately went to the right, but Tuigamala’s attempted pass over the top, while being tackled, went into touch.
O’Regan made another weaving run of 40 metres before being brought down just shy of the try line. Two plays later O’Regan put in a grubber into the Jets in-goal and Stanley pounced on the ball to score, but he was ruled off-side and the try disallowed.
On the last minute of the first half, Newtown attacked the Storm line after some solid work by the forwards. Ford drifted across field towards the right wing and managed to slip through the sliding defence to score. Tuatara-Morrison converted the try and at half-time Newtown lead 14-6.
Newtown went close to scoring on several occasions early in the second but the Storm defence was equal to the task. The first opportunity Melbourne got they took, when O’Regan ran onto an inside ball from Kostjasyn and barged over on the left side.
Twelve minutes later, Peters attempted a kick from dummy half but one of the Jets decoy runners ran too close to him, and Peters ended up kicking the ball into his teammate. Melbourne moved the ball down the Newtown left side before another inside ball close to the try line put Bromwich over for a try. Widdop converted the try and Melbourne had a two point lead.
From the restart the Storm forwards made big metres up field and managed to get to the Jets 30 metre line for the fifth tackle. Widdop attempted a small chip kick which was partially charged down, however he managed to regather the ball ran 20 metres, drew the fullback and passed to Rochow who scored out wide on the right side. Widdop’s conversion attempt failed and with 11 minutes remaining the Storm lead 20-14.
With seven minutes left Newtown are awarded a scrum after Melbourne knocks on inside their own half. Foran spreads the ball from the scrum to the left, using a run-a-round to create an overlap before passing to Tuatara-Morrison who scored in the left corner. Tuatara-Morrison kicks a magnificent sideline conversion to level the game.
With just 5 minutes remaining, Maori breaks through the first line of defence before being tackled by cover defenders. Moujalli receives the ball while running wide of the ruck on the left of the field and breaks through the defence and runs 15 metres to score under the posts. The Storm players took exception to the Jets jubilation and yet another scuffle breaks out under the posts after the try is scored. Order is restored and Tuatara-Morrison converts the try to give the jets a 6 point victory.
1 Gareth Widdop
4 Chase Stanley
3 Willie Isa
2 Dane Chisholm
5 Luke MacDougall
6 Daniel O’Regan
7 Luke Kelly (c)
8 Jesse Bromwich
9 Rory Kostjasyn
10 Sione Kite
11 Robbie Rochow
16 Fred Makimare
13 Billy Rogers
14 Sinbad Kali
15 Pulou Vaituutuu
17 James Woolford
18 Dale Langford
1 Luke Towers
2 Chris Tuatara-Morrison
3 Tu’u Maori
4 Sonny Tuigamala
5 Troy Savage
6 Jonathon Ford
7 Liam Foran
14 Tinirau Arona
9 Keith Peters
10 Ray Moujalli
11 Brad Barrett
12 Aiden Guerra
13 Jason Baiteri (c)
15 Russell Aitken
16 John Leiatua
17 James Koloamatangi
21 Ryan Verlinden
WHEN THEY SCORED
12th min - Melbourne 6-0 – O’Regan try, Widdop goal
17th min - Melbourne 6-4 – Savage try
20th min - Newtown 8-6 – Guerra try
40th min - Newtown 14-6 – Ford try, Tuatara-Morrison goal
52nd min - Newtown 14-10 – O’Regan try
65th min - Melbourne 16-14 – Bromwich try, Widdop goal
69th min - Melbourne 20-14 – Rochow try
73rd min - 20 all – Tuatara-Morrison try, Tuatara-Morrison goal
75th min - Newtown 26-20 – Moujalli try, Tuatara-Morrison goal
NEWTOWN 26 (Savage, Guerra, Ford, Tuatara-Morrison, Moujalli tries; Tuatara-Morrison 3 goals)
MELBOURNE 20 (O’Regan 2, Bromwich, Rochow tries; Widdop 2 goals)
Referee: Rob Bowen
Touch Judges: Zac Tozer and Monty Beecroft
Half-Time: Newtown 14-6
Scrums: 7 all
Penalties: Melbourne 8-7
Goal Kickers: Tuatara-Morrison (Newtown) 3 from 5, Widdop (Melbourne) 2 from 4
****This match report appeared in Rugby League News magazine****