Impressive Jets oust Giants in grand style

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The Independent Online

The Crawley Jets, that little bastion of Rugby League excellence in the deep south, reclaimed the title they won two years ago as they showed too much skill and enterprise for opponents from nearer the heartland of the game in the RL Conference Grand Final at Coventry.

The Crawley Jets, that little bastion of Rugby League excellence in the deep south, reclaimed the title they won two years ago as they showed too much skill and enterprise for opponents from nearer the heartland of the game in the RL Conference Grand Final at Coventry.

The match was a fascinating contrast in styles from the start. If ever a tea"Giants" it is Rotherham, whose entire side wore the physical demeanour of prop forwards, and, to a large extent they played like them.

The Jets in comparison, had an obvious edge in speed and mobility, but looked prone, like Concorde, eventually to develop a few cracks in their superstructure.

That was why having lost last year's grand final to Chester after leading 18-4, the early lead they built up was never entirely convincing.

It was, however, a marvellous start, from the moment in the fifth minute when Steve O'Reilly, their former Widnes reserve, charged down an attempted drop goal from Gary Archer and scooped the ball up to go 70 yards and score.

After ten minutes, their impressive centre Richard Billings drew the cover to slip the ball to Dave Wattam for the loose forward to score the first of his two first-half tries.

His second came when he took the ball as first receive and ghosted through a heavyweight defence that already looked to be labouring in the sunshine.

But Rotherham have not reached the final without showing a remarkable degree of resilience. They used their bulk to win a scrum against the feed and kept plugging away until their stand-off, Craig Weston, found a big gap from another scrum to score.

When Graham Batty's pass sent Chris Jasinski over, the Yorkshire side were right back in it and could have made it even closer at half-time if Sam Moore had not lost the ball over the try-line.

Soon after that, O'Reilly who had already kicked three of his eventual total of five goals, opened Rotherham up again with a long ball and Ciaian Fitzgerald, scored the first of his two tries on either side of half-time.

Mark Walker replied for the Giants, but Tony Platt's effort for the Jets kept them firmly in control and Watton's run and Alex Meredith's tumbling recovery of his footing produced a seventh Crawley try as the Giants were finally cut down to size.

Even with Dean Jackson, one of two ex-professional brothers in the Rotherham ranks, in the sin-bin, Batty claimed a late consolation that perhaps meant more to them than the kisses on the head bestowed by an affectionate male streaker. In a game that showed how far the Conference has come, Rotherham's indomitable spirit, was in the end, not enough to counteract the ability of players like O'Reilly, Wattan and Crawley's hooker and man of the match, Andy Shaw.

Crawley: Meredith, Elliott, Billings, Henderson, E Dowling, Kilgannon, O'Reilly, Sparkes, Shaw, Matterface, Fitzgerald, Platt, Wattam. Substitutes: Dinsdale, R Dowling, Kemp-Gee, Holmes.

Rotherham: Dean Jackson, Jasinski, Colley, Batty, Walker, Weston, Moore, Chadwick, Woolley, Archer, Skidmore, Duckenfield, Darryl Jackson. Substitutes: Short, Lynch, Scott, Walls.

Referee: R Morris (Blackpool).

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