Tigers Retain MUA Solidarity Cup

Sunday victory ensures Tigers retain the MUA Solidarity Cup, the challenge trophy that goes on the line whenever the two Sydney inner-western clubs meet at Henson Park.



Disciplined Tigers see off the Jets' challenge.

The Balmain Tigers have moved into outright first place on the NSW Cup premiership table after they defeated Newtown 28-16 in the deferred round 13 clash played at Henson Park on Sunday.

The result of this match decided which of the two clubs would take the competition leadership after 17 rounds, and it was the third time that the old 1908 Foundation Club rivals had faced off this season.

Balmain had already secured the Trevor Ryan-Neil Pringle Shield with their two previous wins earlier this year, and Sunday's victory ensured that the Tigers would also retain the MUA Solidarity Cup, the challenge trophy that goes on the line whenever the two inner-western clubs meet at Henson Park.

Newtown dominated territory and possession in the opening 10 minutes but lacked the creativity and guile to prise open the Tigers' renowned online defence.

Nearing the end of the game's first quarter, a succession of missed tackles in the Jets' backline spelled disaster as the Tigers romped in for three converted tries.

Newtown fought doubly-hard to get back into the match and responded with two tries in the last five minutes of the first half, one to winger Troy Savage and the second by way of a remarkably-determined charge through a thicket of Tigers defenders by Jets forward James Koloamatangi.

Newtown trailed 18-10 at the break but their supporters' confidence had been shaken by that barrage of Balmain tries midway through the first half.

The Tigers increased their lead to 20-10 through a penalty goal early in the second half, while the Jets suffered a real body-blow after five minutes when enforcer prop Khalid Deeb was stretchered from the field with a serious knee injury.

Newtown played for a considerable part of the match with a depleted bench which added to the team's problems. Balmain took full advantage of a couple of critical Newtown errors midway through the second half and increased their lead to 28-10.

The match remained an extremely physical and at times ill-tempered contest right to the final siren, with Newtown five-eighth Ben Jones scoring for the Jets in the game's second last minute.

Both teams had supplied players to NSW Residents representative duties and to their NRL partnership clubs, and while being mindful of Newtown's on-field disruption through injuries, Balmain could probably take a bit more out of this game as a guide to the likely outcome of any further encounter between these two sides at the business end of the season.

Newtown's coach Greg Matterson pointed out that the Jets had made more line breaks in this game than the Tigers, and that Newtown's first-half defensive lapses had proven to be very costly in what was always going to be a hard-fought match.

Balmain's completion rate of close to ninety per cent for the entire match emphasised the team's low mistake rate and their well-drilled, methodical approach.

The Jets' man of the match was hard-grafting front-rower Tinirau Arona, and he was well supported in the forwards by hooker Liam Foran, prop Khalid Deeb until his untimely departure and the powerhouse James Koloamatangi. Chris Tuatara-Morrison was the best of Newtown's backline.

The Jets travel south this Saturday (10th July) to take on one of the form teams of the 2010 NSW Cup competition, the Melbourne Storm. This match, marking Newtown's first-ever visit to the Victorian capital, gets underway at Olympic Park at 3.00pm.