Isimeeli Hafoka.
Isimeeli Hafoka. Contributed

Debutant puts his body on the line

HOW do you endear yourself to your coaches, teammates and the fans on debut? Put your body on the line to make a game-saving play on the buzzer, even if it means coming off second best.

Ipswich Jet #591, Isimeeli Hafoka will have woken up yesterday morning feeling a little ginger after his collision with Michael Purcell in the Jets' in-goal during the 32-26 win over Easts Tigers at Lang-lands Park.

Leading 30-10 with 18 minutes to play, the Jets conceded three late tries and were on the back foot as time expired on Saturday night.

A vocal home crowd got behind the Tigers, as the referee blew a penalty on the siren to give the hosts one final chance at squaring the match at 32-all.

A kick high to the Tigers' left side - where Easts winger Jarrod McInally had already shown a propensity to leap and score earlier in the contest - had hearts in mouths around the ground.

Hafoka, having only just entered the fray, threw himself into the pack in a desperate attempt to keep the hosts out.

Jets fullback Purcell had the same idea, and the two collided as the ball trickled into the back of the in-goal.

There was muted celebration from the Jets players as they realised the youngster was late to get to his feet.

He was stretchered off the field to applause, and later joined his teammates in the dressing rooms with only an ice pack to show for his troubles.

"He made his debut and saved the game for us right at the end,” Jets co-coach Ben Walker said post-match.

"Even though he wasn't on for long, he had a big impact. It is one for him to remember, that's for sure.”