How Ipswich Jets ended a PNG hoodoo
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Ipswich Jets are celebrating their first ever overseas win over PNG after the return of two classy players, another outstanding individual effort and a different game plan.
Delighted co-coach Ben Walker praised his team for its historic 28-10 victory in Port Moresby, the Intrust Super Cup team's first playing in that country since 2014.
"We were never really in doubt,'' Walker said, enjoying an Easter Sunday afternoon party following Ipswich's third win over the season.
The only major scare came just before halftime with the Jets ahead 16-4. However, a massive tackle by winger Peter Gubb to deny PNG a runaway try 20 seconds before halftime typified the Jets desperation.
Former Wynnum footballer Gubb finished with two tries - one either side of halftime - to show how he's settled into the Jets' entertaining style of play.
Jets hooker Kierran Moseley had another superb game, having also starred in Ipswich's recent victory over Redcliffe.
Walker was also pleased to see valuable contributions from try-scoring duo Rogan Dean and Josh Seage, who returned to the side for the PNG game.
Dean is a former Norths, Wynnum and Cowboys under-20 footballer who last played in the Intrust Super Cup in 2016.
Jets chairman Steve Johnson contacted Dean and invited the winger to join the Ipswich side in the pre-season.
"He had a run with us and started enjoying his footy again,'' Walker said. "He got an opportunity at the weekend.
"He's a class player.''
Having spent the off-season in France, Seage played in the first round before stepping up when needed on Saturday afternoon.
"Josh was outstanding again. He never lets you down,'' Walker said.
"He always goes over and above his job. He's fast becoming one of the better big match players around.
"The bigger the obstacle, the better he goes.''
It was Seage's 59th appearance for the Jets, at a venue where he made his debut in 2014.
With regular point-scorer Marmin Barba remaining at home, Jets five-eight Josh Cleeland took over the kicking duties. He landed three from five conversion attempts, adding a penalty goal in the second half.
Speedster Jayden Connors played at fullback and forward Blake Lenehan made his debut.
While thrilled with the effort of all the players in a patched-up Jets side, Walker said it was a new approach that helped Ipswich end their six-year losing streak against the Hunters.
"We had a bit of a different game plan this time. We decided to play it through the middle,'' Walker said.
Although the Jets' backs finished in trademark style, it was avoiding "the trap of going wide too early up there in Moresby'' that proved decisive.
That's where Moseley stamped his authority, controlling the game.
After a couple of weeks where the Jets were hit hard with injury, second rower Ben White became the latest player needing treatment. He injured his ankle during the PNG game.
The Jets can now prepare to tackle Tweed Seagulls next Sunday at Pigabeen Sports Complex.
Meanwhile, Norths were issued a breach notice after fielding 14 players for seven seconds during the Devils' 31-14 win over the Jets in the previous round match at the North Ipswich Reserve.
The Devils received a $5000 fine for having an extra player on the field, of which $2500 was suspended for two years.
If a similar incident occurs within that time, the full amount will need to be paid and there may be further sanctions including additional fines, suspension or loss of competition points.
State of play
Intrust Super Cup Rd 7: Ipswich Jets 28 (Peter Gubb 2, Rogan Dean, Josh Seage, Jayden Connors tries; Josh Cleeland 3 conversions, 1 penalty goal) def PNG Hunters 10 (Brandon Nima, Woods Kawage tries; Ase Boas conversion) at the National Football Stadium, Port Moresby.