Tuesday 29 March 2022

Rugby League History: The 1982 Newtown Jets

Rugby League History - Published March 29, 2022 

📷 The '82 Newtown Jets entered the newly minted Winfield Cup era with high hopes.
After being beaten by Parramatta in the '81 decider, the Jets would never have dreamed their start to the '82 campaign could possibly be as bad as it was.
They opened the '82 season against the team they'd beaten in the '81 Preliminary Final, Eastern Suburbs, and were edged out 11-5 at Henson Park. They were then held scoreless at Redfern v Souths (a 30-0 shellacking) and Lidcombe v Western Suburbs (18-0) to languish in 14th spot with no wins and just 5 points for scored in the opening 3 rounds.
Things improved in Round 4 when they defeated North Sydney 18-2 back at Henson Park, before the fabled 0-0 draw v Canterbury (again at Henson) etched the Blue Baggers into history as part of the only scoreless game in Premiership history.
But as you can see above, they'd got some practice in ahead of time as the Round 5 stalemate was the 3rd time in 5 games they'd failed to trouble the scorers.
The Jets added another low point to the season in Round 8, when one of the new kids on the block in '82 the Canberra Raiders, won their first ever premiership game 12-11 over Newtown at Seiffert Oval. This loss was sandwiched by defeats to eventual Grand Finalists Manly and Parramatta. 
So by the end of Round 9 the Jets were sitting in 12th spot with just 2 wins and a draw (propped up from the cellar by Canberra and fellow newcomer Illawarra) and a return to the Finals looked a forlorn hope at best.
But Round 10 and a visit from Illawarra to Henson saw the Jets emerge from their point-scoring slumber with a thumping 51-0 win over the Steelers. John Ferguson, Phil Sigsworth and Jim Walters all crossing for doubles and Ken Wilson kicking 10 from 11 goals, a field goal and a try for a personal tally of 24 points (tries were worth 3 points in '82).
This win was followed by victories in 6 of the next 8 rounds and the Jets were quietly moving back up the ladder and by Round 17 were just 2 points off the Top 5 with 8 wins, 8 losses and a draw... could they salvage a season that started horribly and get back into the Semis?
Unfortunately the next 3 rounds put pay to their realistic chances, picking up just a draw (again v Canterbury - this time 12-all) from the available 6 points, and when they hosted one of the Premiership's front-runners Manly-Warringah at Henson in Round 21 they were 6 points off the pace in 10th spot.
Newtown upset the fancied Sea Eagles 16-13, and got a sniff of September. 
They then beat Canberra 42-5 in the revenge match at Henson to get to 8th spot but were still 6 points off Wests in 5th spot and simply had to beat league-leaders Parramatta in Round 23 at Belmore... but a 36-0 humbling by the eventual Premiers killed off their Semi Final hopes once and for all and saw them held off the scoreboard for the 4th time in '82.
Newtown did however still have a meaningful game to play after the Parramatta loss - with the Jets having qualified for the Final of the '82 KB Cup mid-week comp (they advanced past Souths in the Semi Final a few days before the Parramatta game) to be played on August 11 against Manly-Warringah at Leichhardt Oval.
Despite going down to the Sea Eagles in the Final 23-8, the Jets had given their loyal supporters one final Cup ride to enjoy - having beaten Canterbury 25-5 in Round 1, thrashed QLD Country 43-2 in Round 2, then knocking out Cronulla 7-2 in the Quarter Finals and then scraping past Souths on the penalty count-back 8-all draw in the Semi Final.
And as you can see, Tommy Raudonikis was sporting a magnificent 80s beard for the Cup run.
The Jets didn't phone in the last 3 weeks though, beating Illawarra 15-12, Balmain 30-8 and Penrith 40-12 (Chicka Ferguson scored 4 tries) to finish in 7th spot with 13 wins, 11 losses and 2 draw and 28 points - 4 points behind Easts and Wests who finished on 32 points in 4th and 5th respectively.
Despite their inability to score points early in the '82 season, the Jets under Warren Ryan (his last year at Newtown) still managed to have the 3rd best defence in the comp - conceding just 309 points in 26 games. They were far better at home than on the road, winning 9 of their 13 games in front of an average of just under 5,000 fans at each game at Henson Park.
Chicka Ferguson led the tryscoring tally with 15, and Ken Wilson scored the most points with 139.
Sadly for the Jets, '82 would be the last competitive year for the club, before faltering badly in the '83 season to finish 13th and being removed from the First Grade competition for the '84 season.
The full 36 man squad used by the '82 Newtown Jets:
P Akkary, R Blacklock, S Blyth, S Bowden, M Bugden, G Byron, J Crow, B Cummins, C Doyle, C Ellis, G Ellis, J Emirian, J Ferguson, P Gould (yep, Gus), M Graham, B Grech, P Kelly, D Lance, A McMahon, J Mackay, L Mara, P Morris, C Murphy, W Newling, M O'Brien, G O'Grady, M Oliveira, M Pitman, M Pobjie, T Raudonikis, M Ryan, P Sigsworth, R Sigsworth, Howmuchareapacketof Sigsworth, J Standen, J Walters, K Wilson.
Coach: W Ryan.
As for how the Finals Series of the '82 Winfield Cup played out?
Parramatta and Manly would meet in the Grand Final, with the Eels securing back to back Premierships.
Huge shoutout to Rugby League Project for their fantastic resource, making this recap possible.
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Thursday 10 March 2022

NOT The Footy Show's 2022 NRL Predictions and Ladder

2022 NRL Prognostications
Published March 10, 2022 
Ahhhh pre-season predictions - don't lie, you love to read them right up until the point the writer puts your team in the very bottom third of said predictions.
For 2021, NOT The Footy Show didn't do too badly with our dart throws, picking 7 of the 8 Finalists (leaving Manly out and having Canberra in) but in the bottom eight we gave Canterbury too much credit (putting them 13th) and were way too harsh on St George-Illawarra by dropping the wooden spoon on them... but yes we missed Penrith as Premiers.
For the record here's how we went last season on each team - listed in 2021 regular season finish with 2021 prediction in brackets:
  1. Melbourne (4th)
  2. Penrith (1st)
  3. Souths (3rd)
  4. Manly (9th)
  5. Easts (2nd)
  6. Parramatta (5th)
  7. Newcastle (8th)
  8. Gold Coast (7th)
  9. Cronulla (11th)
  10. Canberra (6th)
  11. St George-Illawarra (16th)
  12. Warriors (10th)
  13. Tigers (12th)
  14. Brisbane (15th)
  15. North Queensland (14th)
  16. Canterbury (13th)
  • We had the Roosters to win the comp in a Grand Final v Souths... so we got one Grand Finalist but didn't pick the Panthers. 
  • We had NSW winning Origin 3-0 - they won 2-1 but did lead the series 2-0.
  • For Dally M we had Nathan Cleary and it looked good until Tommy Trbojevic started playing footy in 2021... what a season by Tommy. 
  • Rookie of the Year we picked Charlie Staines but his in-different form saw him lose his spot in Penrith's team in the run to the Finals, so it was no surprise he didn't feature close to the amazing crop of rookies in 2021 - with Sam Walker a deserving winner from Reece Walsh and Josh Schuster.
  • Top Tryscorer we had Daniel Tupou but it went to Alex Johnston easily with 27 tries to Tupou's 14, and Top Point Scorer we had Adam Reynolds but Reuben Garrick beat him into 2nd spot with 304 points to 248 (both races were finalised during the regular season not after the Finals)
So time to dive into our 2022 Predictions, and we are taking NRL trial form on board, but it certainly isn't a defining factor in where we have your teams... that said we reserve the right to change any order prior to Round 1 kicks off tonight.
1. Penrith Panthers - It's kind of stunning they didn't win the Minor Premiership last year - Melbourne were tremendous though - and you get the feeling they may want to get the JJ Giltinan Shield back in their hands as well as the Provan-Summons Trophy. But they'll only win one of these in 2022 despite another stacked roster replenished by the Gus Gould development system.

2. Sydney Roosters - Luke Keary fully fit again and an off-season of mostly rest for James Tedesco... that's two good ingredients for a club to bounce back after a disappointing, yet resilient 2021 campaign. The Chooks are reloaded for another Premiership assault and are our pick to win the whole thing.

3. Melbourne Storm - Well and truly good enough to win another Minor Premiership but it's gonna take something special to get past the top two teams to make the Grand Final after they got stunned by the Panthers last year.

4. Parramatta Eels - Gus Gould is convinced they are going to genuinely contend this year... and I think they have a better regular season team than the one that has to step up a gear in the Finals. Top 4 based on regular season, but out in straight sets.

5. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles - Quality players with an improving supporting cast... and Tommy Trbojevic. If they get on a similar run to last year at any stage they will force one of the above teams out of the Top 4 but right now they sit just outside. Good enough to make a run in September from this spot.

6. South Sydney Rabbitohs - Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker especially will miss the freedom Adam Reynolds created in tighter games but they will still beat up on the ordinary sides in the NRL. But up against the Top 4 things will be more difficult. Top 4 worthy but there's 5 better teams in front of them unless Lachlan Ilias is the real deal.

7. Gold Coast Titans - If Jayden Campbell stays hot at fullback and AJ Brimson and Toby Sexton get the job done in the halves the Titans will play semi final football again. But this team won't push past week one of the Finals.

8. Canberra Raiders - If Jamal Fogarty was healthy they might have pushed into the Top 6 but 7th or 8th seems about right if Brad Schneider can do the job and Ricky Stuart wakes up to himself and finds room for Xavier Savage by Round 2. Could be a fairytale team by the time Fogarty returns but not likely.

9. Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks - There are nine good NRL sides in 2022... the Sharks will have to beat out one of Canberra or the Gold Coast to play a meaningful game in September though. Jury has to be out on Craig Fitzgibbon until we've seen how well Cronulla adapt to the Roosters' defensive style and he won't even be at the ground in Round 1. Nicho Hynes and Will Kennedy dictate how this team succeeds if Fitzgibbon can get the defence to shape up. Just miss the Top 8 but not by much.

10. Warriors - Shaun Johnson and Reece Walsh are gonna be fun to watch. Rest of the side is either overpaid or underwhelming and they won't have their best player Tohu Harris back til May. Missing Harris rules them out of the Top 8 race early but they will surge late - best of the rest for mine.

11. St. George-Illawarra Dragons - Had them for the spoon last year... got that wrong but they weren't much chop in 2021 under Anthony Griffin. Have finally injected some youth into the squad for Ben Hunt to work with but the forward pack is meh... lots of similar pieces that don't really get you excited for anything higher than low to middle road.

12. Wests Tigers - Luke Brooks and Jackson Hastings have a job to do... and some good pieces to work with to be honest. Tim Sheens will demand they play more footy so they will be far more exciting to watch play than in recent seasons. Don't see a horrible season but the Finals are probably beyond them.

13. Newcastle Knights - Kalyn Ponga can't win 11 games by himself... that's what Newcastle need with a good pack and below average backs on the books. Lucky to be in 13th really. 

14. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs - Lots of new faces but the trials didn't show much in the way of imagination from their coach's approach to the playing style. Will experience some growing pains but will improve - so will finish just above the two worst sides.

15. North Queensland Cowboys - Todd Payten's Jason Taumalolo 'budgeting his minutes' manifesto is gone after 12 months and so is the lack of warmth on the coach's hot seat. Have some footy players but they don't have a pack that makes you worry about making metres and the backs are good and terrible. Oh and faith in Le Chad is so badly misplaced when it means Scott Drinkwater may not see First Grade. Lucky Brisbane is in the comp.

16. Brisbane Broncos - Stone motherless last. Badly assembled roster without much hope even if Adam Reynolds gets healthy. Payne Haas is a cut above but he can't do it all on his own. Really worry about Kevin Walters lasting through April... even with an extension. Just on a hiding to nothing with this group he was handed.

Grand Final: Roosters v Panthers.
2022 Premiers: Roosters.

Dally M - James Tedesco
Rookie of the Year - Xavier Savage from Lachlan Ilias, Jeremiah Nanai, Brendan Piakura and Brad Schneider.
Top Tryscorer - Xavier Coates from Alex Johnston, James Tedesco and Brian To'o.
Top Pointscorer - Ryan Papenhuyzen from Nathan Cleary and Reuben Garrick.
State of Origin - New South Wales 2-1.

Good luck to your team in 2022.

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