Newtown ended the Vodafone Warriors' 2016 campaign by holding on for a 22-18 win in tonight's Intrust Super Premiership week two finals contest at Pepper Stadium.
The Stacey Jones-coached side had earned another week in the playoffs after eliminating Penrith last week but faltered tonight, paying the price for making too many errors especially in the opening stanza of the second half.
Unable to complete sets consistently, they kept gifting the Jets possession and, with it, field position. The damage followed in the shape of two converted tries and a penalty enabling the Jets to surge to a 14-point lead midway through the second half.
A second try for wing Henare Wells and then a 78th-minute Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad effort had the margin down to four points with 90 seconds left but there the Vodafone Warriors ran out of time.
The two sides scored four tries each but Mason Lino was able to convert just one.
Earlier the Vodafone Warriors had made a bright start just four minutes in.
Prop James Gavet carried the ball potently, looking to reach out to get the ball down as he did in last week’s win over Penrith. Stopped short he played the ball quickly, hooker Nathaniel Roache scooting out of dummy half to score. Lino couldn’t convert.
They had a chance to strike again soon after when Ata Hingano rocketed out of defence after picking up a loose Newtown pass. He found veteran centre George Carmont in support before he drew a penalty when he was held down for too long but the Vodafone Warriors couldn’t profit from the repeat set this time.
Instead the Jets were on level terms after 13 minutes, standoff Josh Cleeland breaching the Vodafone Warriors’ left edge defence when he ran on the last, bursting through or past several defenders. Fa’amanu Brown couldn’t convert.
By the 26th minute Newtown had the lead. After Saulala Houma was denied on the line by a great Roache tackle, the Jets created a try for left wing Corin Smith from a Brown grubber. Again Brown was off target leaving his side 8-4 ahead.
The flow switched, the Vodafone Warriors enjoying possession and repeat sets with left wing Ken Maumalo over in the corner only for a forward pass to be called. The pain of the bombed try was doubled when the Vodafone Warriors gave up a penalty allowing Newtown to roll downfield.
The visitors resisted, came out of defence and then produced a dazzling try.
A Hingano bomb was allowed to bounce by the Newtown defence, Carmont seizing the loose ball and flinging it back infield as he was heading for the left touchline. Maumalo batted it on, Hingano gathered, fed to Sipley, then on to Lino and he measured his kick wide to the right delightfully for an unmarked Wells to collect and score in the corner. Lino was wide outside the left-hand upright leaving the sides level at 8-8 at halftime.
Having fought back to even terms, the Vodafone Warriors made a poor start to the second half by conceding two tries in the opening 10 minutes of the spell. Both times it was New Zealanders inflicting the damage, first through hooker Matt McIlwrick and then former Vodafone Junior Warrior Kurt Kara (although Kara's try was fortuitous with the match officials somehow missing a forward pass from McIlwrick).
With Brown converting both, the Jets were quickly out to a 12-point lead and then 14 ahead after 60 minutes with a Brown penalty.
The Vodafone Warriors remained staunch, forcing Newtown into error twice.
From a scrum Lino chipped superbly over the Jets' line, Wells surging forward to gather on the fly and finish it off brilliantly for his second try. Lino couldn't convert again but, at 12-22, the Vodafone Warriors had a sniff with 10 minutes to play.
They needed to score quickly again but another error hurt and the Jets also did all they could to take the pace out of the game. The tactic was working, the clock winding down but 90 seconds out the Vodafone Warriors were in scoring action again.
Wells was the provider, cutting through and feeding Nicoll-Klokstad on the left. He ran the ball around closer to the posts giving Lino an easier conversion to have the score reading 18-22.
Back they came from the restart but they couldn't organise a last tackle option, Newtown holding on to advance to week three while the Vodafone Warriors were left to rue a run of errors (their completion rate was just 57 per cent) which ultimately cost them their chance of staying alive.
Details | Pepper Stadium, Penrith
Newtown Jets 22 (Josh Cleeland, Corin Smith, Matt McIlwrick, Kurt Kara tries; Fa'amanu Brown 2 conversions, penalty).
Vodafone Warriors 18 (Henare Wells 2, Nathaniel Roache, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad tries; Mason Lino conversion).
Referee: Jon Stone.
Vodafone Warriors | Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad; Henare Wells, Matt Allwood, George Carmont, Ken Maumalo; Ata Hingano, Mason Lino (c); James Gavet, Nathaniel Roache, Upu Poching; John Palavi, Shaun Lane; Jazz Tevaga. Interchange: Toafofoa Sipley, James Bell, Viliami Kaveinga, Daniel Palavi.