Almanac Rugby League – 2019 NRL Grand Final Day: Interstate Championship – Newtown Jets v Burleigh Bears

Footy can be a cruel, cruel game! On the other hand, when opportunities present themselves, you have take advantage of them. The oblong ball has a mind of its own and so it proved in this intense tussle between the Newtown Jets and the Burleigh Bears.


Over the past few years, these Interstate Championship matches have been dominated by the winners of the NSW Intrust Super Cup. The Bears vowed to make a real game of it today to restore some northern pride. And proud they did do the Queensland iteration of the competition. In the end, a single bounce of the ball thwarted them.


Newtown, assisted by a few soft penalties, dominated the first fifteen minutes of the game but couldn’t turn that advantage into points other than a modest penalty goal. Burleigh finally gained possession and field position to construct two tries to Anthony Don, one after a long break by Dylan Phythian, to take a 10-2 lead into the half-time break. Their situation was enhanced by the sin-binning of Newtown’s Ronaldo Mulitalo for leading with his head in a tackle. Newtown looked a little flustered even though they appeared the fresher and more dynamic.


The Burleigh lads extended their lead to 16-2 soon after the break after a freakish try to Jamal Fogarty. On a last play, Don somehow managed to control a poor pass, regain his balance and managed an equally bad offload to Fogarty. He toed the ball ahead, it rebounded off the goalpost and Fogarty pounced to score. At the time, I thought the Bears needed at least another score to wrap up the game.


Instead of playing tight in defence and safe in attack, Burleigh conceded a series of silly penalties to gift Newtown both possession and field position for an extended period. Suddenly, it became a case of fighting for survival. Newtown surged and scored through Sione Kata (54th minute), Jackson Ferris  off a lucky rebound (63rd minute) and Kata again (76th minute) to close the gap to just two points. Only poor goal kicking by Braydon Trindall kept Burleigh in the game.


To their credit, Burleigh defended feverishly and looked like holding on after they took an intercept with just a minute to go. A reasonable set of six took them into Newtown’s half leaving Newtown less than twenty seconds to find a winner. Such situations call for risks and so Newtown’s Billy Magoulias tried a short chip-kick over the defence near halfway. Burleigh fullback Kurtis Rowe appeared to have the play covered only for the ball to take a right-angled bounce which allowed Ferris to run onto it at pace, street the defence and score under the posts to steal the game for Newtown on the siren.


Oh so cruel!


To their credit, Newtown had hung in there when under pressure and trailing by fourteen points. They took their opportunities when they came. Burleigh were very brave but errors (a restart went dead on the full!) cost them dearly.


Newtown were best served by the dangerous Simone Kata on the wing, tough as teak Billy Magoulias, energetic hooker Blayke Brailey, and my man-of-the-match, prop Toby Rudolph who was a tower of strength in both attack and defence. The Bears’ best were half-back Jamal Fogarty, winger Anthony Don, back-rower Blake Leary and five-eighth Dylan Phythian.


It was an exciting game and a good lead-in to the NRLW and NRL Grand Finals.



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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.

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