Bears, Jets settle on Frank Hyde Shield draw
The Newtown Jets and North Sydney Bears have played out a scintillating 22-22 draw in the first leg of the Frank Hyde Shield at Henson Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Jets clawed back from an 18-6 deficit at the break before crossing for three unanswered tries in the second half, including two to winger Sione Katoa, before Bears winger Amanaki Veamatahau clutched onto a crossfield kick to set a 22-22 scoreline after the full-time siren had sounded.
Although keeping a perfect kicking record throughout the contest, halfback Dean Hawkins was unable to nail the sideline conversion with his attempted shot hitting the left post.
Match: Jets vs Bears
Venue: Henson Park
The Jets got off to a blistering start when Katoa finished off a well-executed backline movement in the right-hand corner, but the desperate Bears defence was able to prevent him from grounding the ball.
They made amends just moments later when Briton Nikora bursted onto a perfect short ball from Kyle Flanagan after just five minutes of play.
Robbie Farah was quick to stamp his authority in the match after catching the Jets defence napping, with a classy pass for Samuel Johnstone as he barged his way over to the left of the uprights.
Hawkins converted to set the score at 6-6 after 15 minutes.
The Bears snatched the lead when Connor Tracey found Braidon Burns with a bullet left-to-right pass, before some slick hands from Burns saw Mawene Hiroti cross for back-to-back tries.
The Bears were steam rolling the Jets through the middle-third as Hymel Hunt made a storming run before finding fullback Viliami Kaveinga, but the scrambling Jets defence was able to force a costly error.
Another try beckoned with a carbon-copy break from the Bears shortly after, but they were unable to capitalise after Farah fumbled the ball in support.
They earned a quick reprieve when a pin-point grubber found Tarquinn Butler for their third unanswered try.
Hawkins nailed the conversion to take a comfortable 18-6 lead at half-time.
A strong carry against the run of play put the Jets on the front foot early in the second stanza, and they took full advantage in the ensuing set as Katoa strolled his way over for a crucial four-pointer.
Brimming with confidence, the Jets finally ground their groove after an array of handling errors with Addison Demetriou crashing over for their third try of the contest.
Flanagan converted to set an 18-16 scoreline with just 20 minutes remaining.
Trailing by two points with less than 10 minutes remaining, Jets five-eighth Jack Williams made the defining play with a break through some flimsy Bears defence, before drawing the fullback for Katoa as he streaked away to take a 22-18 lead.
A try to Amanaki Veamatahau right on full-time gave Hawkins a chance to win the game from the sideline, but the halfback was unable to convert as both sides battled out an incredible 22-all draw.