Conlon finds kicking boots on Ladies' Day
THE IPSWICH Jets wore pink to celebrate their Women in League Ladies' Day on Saturday, but for the first 10 minutes Norths Devils had them feeling blue.
Two kicking errors from the normally ever-reliable Wes Conlon opened the door for the visitors, gifting them early field position which they capitalised on.
Down 12-0, Conlon believed the reason for the Jets' slow start was a case of uncharacteristic nerves.
"For myself, I just felt a little nervous for some reason," the fullback said.
"Usually I don't (get nervous). But once I relaxed - once we all relaxed - I think it started to flow, which was good."
Conlon's short kick-offs are an ace up the sleeve the Jets can usually rely on. But early on it looked like "Deadly" had left his kicking boots in the dressing sheds.
"I've done really good of late with the short kicks. That there, I don't know what was going on," Conlon said.
"But once I relaxed, and slowed it down in my head, it just came natural."
Ben Shea started the fightback when he crashed over next to the posts after 20 minutes of play.
The Jets' momentum was stifled when winger Richie Pandia was sent to the bin. The Devils capitalised on his absence down the right edge to extend the margin back out to 12 points.
But that did not last long.
Conlon rediscovered his kicking form, finding Sam Caslick with a short kick-off on the ensuing play.
Caslick waltzed across field and sent a spiralling pass wide to put Julian Christian over to score.
"I reckon with a lot of teams we tend to just go toe-for-toe," Conlon said.
"Keiron Lander and Shane (Walker) told us to go up a level, and we did."
The Devils' bend-not-break defensive strategy had a key flaw - they gave away too many penalties. Most teams would use that extra set to attack the try line, but the Jets regularly chose to lean on Conlon's boot and take the two points.
He finished with five penalty goals, and three of four conversion attempts.
And for a 15 minute period, it also kept the ball out of the Devils' hands.
"We work for a try, or that repeat set. Once we get one or the other, we keep rolling," Conlon said.
"Consecutive sets pay off on the defensive side. I think it showed on the scoreboard."
Having watched the Brothers Ipswich women win their curtain-raiser against Eastern Suburbs, Conlon said Saturday's Ladies Day celebration was great for the sport.
"It's great to see so many women out here; to see women involved in league," he said.
ISC Round 11: Ipswich Jets 32 (Nat Neale 2, Julian Christian, Ben Shea tries; Wes Conlon 8 goals) def. Norths Devils 25 (Iain Riccardi, Namila Davui, Gehmat Shibasaki, Troy Dargan tries; Todd Murphy 4 goals, field goal) at North Ipswich Reserve.