Jets embrace being back in control
PLAYING for the first time in almost two months solely with the outcome in their control, the Ipswich Jets sent shock waves through the Intrust Super Cup with a commanding 32-12 win over Townsville on Saturday.
Boasting a relatively strong head-to-head record against the Blackhawks, and entering the elimination final with a far superior form line, the Jets were still heavy outsiders with bookies and pundits to leave Jack Manski Oval with a win.
So of course, the Jets were dominant from the outset.
Against the pre-season premiership favourites, it was the usual combination of Michael Purcell and Marmin Barba which got the Ipswich side rolling early.
The two speedsters combined for 20 first half points - the margin at the main break - before tries to Billy McConnachie and Wes Conlon put the game to bed in the second half.
It was a much more clinical display from the Jets than the one against Norths the weekend prior.
Lock Ben Shea said the team was relishing having destiny solely in their hands once again, after previously relying on results to go their way.
"It was a much more relaxed week,” Shea said.
"Relaxed at training, at the airport, leading up to the game . . . last week we were worried about things beyond our control, looking at the scoreline of other games.
"This week, we just had to worry about ourselves and it showed on the field.”
No one play epitomised that free feeling more than in the build-up to the Jets' third try of the afternoon.
Capitalising on a Blackhawks error, Mitch Carpenter scooped the ball up in one hand and powered forward, before finding Purcell on the outside for the fullback to race over for his second of the first half.
Shea suggested it was no coincidence Carpenter and Purcell worked so seamlessly together to extend the Jets' advantage.
"Salt and Pepper they're calling themselves - they have their own crew, Purcy and Mitchy,” Shea said.
"(Carpenter) brings a lot of impact off the bench, and always seems to come up with big plays at the right time.
"He took that opportunity (on Saturday). He's such a big bloke, but the way he moves with the ball in one hand . . . I think he changed hands about three times before he flicked it to Purcy.”
A key takeaway from the Jets' now-six game winning run has been the complete team performances each week.
Players 1-17 have all hit form at the perfect time.
The former Wynnum Manly premiership winner knows the road will only get tougher from here, with a trip to face Easts in another knockout final on Saturday.
But with fate now firmly back in their hands, Shea is relishing the challenge.
"It's a really good feeling,” Shea said. "Every year guys will say they have the team and that the feeling is there, but there is a lot of confidence, everyone is relaxed in themselves.
"We've cut out the silly errors. We're hitting our straps, and blokes know if they do their job we'll come away with the result.”
Intrust Super Cup elimination final: Ipswich Jets 32 (M. Purcell 2, M. Barba, W. Conlon, B. McConnachie tries; M. Barba 6 goals) def. Townsville Blackhawks 12 (A. Davey, C. Jensen tries; L. Dodd 2 goals) at Jack Manski Oval, Townsville