The Canterbury Bulldogs have blown yet another lead to concede 28 unanswered points against the Newtown Jets, ultimately costing them the two-points despite being up 18-0 on the scoreboard in the early stages.
Josh Cleeland inspired the Jets comeback, as despite the incredible deficit early on in the match, he remained calm and in control to slowly nudge back, take the lead and win the game 28-22.
The Jets are proving they are the real deal in 2016, while the Bulldogs are battling through an incredibly frustrating opening to the year.
Tyrone Phillips always seems to find a way onto the scoresheet on a weekly basis, and it only took him two minutes to record the first four-pointer of the night. Brad Abbey put in a nice grubber, and Phillips showed too much speed for the Jets’ defence.
The Jets failed to capitalise on early field position, with Cleeland having knocked the ball on over the line, before a forward pass while on the attack handed possession straight back to the Bulldogs. Only a cruel bounce cost Jacob Gagan what was their third chance off a smart Cleeland kick into space.
The Bulldogs on the other hand turned field position into points, scoring their second try in the 18th minute when Dane Chisholm threw a magical no-look pass for Raymond Faitala-Mariner to crash over.
Bronson Garlick immediately took advantage of some poor Jets marker work to dart over and increase the lead to 18-0 after the Bulldogs marched 100 metres up-field off the kick-off set.
Cleeland tried his heart out despite the lob-sided score-line, and he believed to have scored off his own kick, however the referee called that there was a knock-on in the put down; a decision that left the would-be try-scorer scratching his head.
With just seconds left until halftime, Cleeland finally got his try, courtesy of a smart show-and-go off the back of a penalty that decreased the Jets deficit to 18-4.
The Jets were the first to strike in the second half, with an early kick not being handled properly by the Bulldogs, which allowed Gagan to swoop through and score just three minutes in.
Suddenly, the Jets were back in the contest when, alike Garlick in the first half, Fa’amanu Brown darted over from dummy half after marching 100 metres up-field off the kick-off set.
The boys from Newtown finally took the lead in the 57th minute through Gagan, who was the recipient of a simply beautiful cut-out pass to take the score to 22-18. Momentum was well and truly with the Jets at this stage.
A controversial dropout gave the Bulldogs their first real attacking chance of the half 28 minutes in, but the Jets were able to withstand the pressure.
Cleeland capped off a wonderful match by sealing the win at the death, before Phillips scored a consolation try in the final minute for the Bulldogs.
Newtown 28 (J Gagan 2, J Cleeland 2, F Brown tries; Brown 3, K Capewell 1 goals) def Canterbury 22 (T Phillips 2, R Faitala-Mariner, B Garlick tries; B Abbey 3 goals)