Fightback shows Jets closing gap on benchmark rivals
WHEN your single-minded goal is to be number one, losing mid-season to the current competition leaders can be a valuable experience.
That's precisely the case for the USQ Ipswich Jets after their top-of-the-table clash with Cougars in their latest Sapphire Series netball encounter.
Going down 51-48 was the Jets' first loss of the season and one vice-captain Brooke Hams was confident would help her side when they meet again.
"We knew it was always going to be tough,'' Hams said, acknowledging the Cougars as the benchmark.
"They always have been. They are always very physical and very smart.
"When they get a roll-on, they just really run with it.''
But unlike previous efforts in their inaugural higher level season, the Jets pushed Cougars all the way and never retreated.
Hams said that was the most pleasing aspect of Sunday night's duel at the Queensland State Netball Centre.
"Last year especially, when we were down and things were tight, we didn't fight. We sort of just rested and expected defeat,'' she said.
"What we took away from that (Cougars) game - the fightback in the last quarter - was actually pretty good.''
The Jets showed their spirit coming from seven down to only lose by three.
"That definitely gives us a little bit of a pointer (about the Cougars),'' the wing attack said.
"They are probably the team that will be at the top looking to go the whole way so we got a little bit of info on every player I suppose.
"It just gave us a lot of insight and I think we've got lots to build on.
"It was probably the first real game that really tested us and we fought back.
"Hopefully we'll continue that.''
Hams was happy to hear head coach Tracey Jeanes-Fraser expecting a champion mindset.
"Anything short of a grand final, or even a win, is going to really disappoint the girls,'' she said. "That's where we are aiming.''
That's why the "super busy'' West Moreton region paramedic is thriving in her second season at the Jets.
"I love it,'' she said, appreciating access to the support staff and fitness network at the Ipswich franchise.
"It's so much more professional.
"I think that is showing in all of our games this year so far.''
Hams also enjoys being vice-captain working with skipper Stephanie O'Brien.
"They are like all these athletes that are committed to everything so it's not that much of a step up I suppose,'' Hams, 25, said.
"All the ladies are very responsible for their own conditioning and they all want to play well and win.
"We don't have to carry that much for them.
"We all get along so well and a lot of us have played together and known each other.
"It's nice to have the stability and that open communication with each other.
"We have a really good balance this year.''
Working as a paramedic means Hams often has 12 hour shifts to perform her important duties.
However, she appreciates the support she receives allowing her to make Jets training and matches.
The Jets Rubies remain unbeaten after accounting for Thunder 62-51 in their latest encounter on Sunday night.
No Sapphire or Ruby competition matches are being played this weekend due to the Queensland 16's and 18's championships.
The Jets have two teams contesting the titles.
The 16's are coached by Sapphires captain O'Brien and teammate Mikeeley Hoch as assistant. Sharon Bonney is managing the side.
The Jets 18's are being coached by Lily Eruera and assistant Tom Morton, from Toowoomba Netball Association.
Jets Rubies head coach Camille Rieck is managing the 18's team, also serving as a mentor for the players of the future.
STATE OF PLAY
Sapphire Series: Cougars def Jets 51-48.
Ruby Series: Jets def Thunder 62-51.
No matches this weekend due to state 18's and 16's titles.