Action from the Intrust Super Cup 2021 season-opening match between the Ipswich Jets (blue strip) and Townsville Blackhawks at the North Ipswich Reserve. Picture: Jorja Brinums/QRL
Action from the Intrust Super Cup 2021 season-opening match between the Ipswich Jets (blue strip) and Townsville Blackhawks at the North Ipswich Reserve. Picture: Jorja Brinums/QRL

Jets reveal what went wrong in season opener


Michael Nunn

THE Ipswich Jets will be hunting two things on Saturday on their trip to the PNG team's Gold Coast fortress. The Jets are after their first win and want to tame the Hunters.

It won't be the first time the Jets and Hunters have clashed at a neutral venue having played at Wynnum in the 2015 finals.

That day at Wynnum accounts for one of the Jets' five wins over the Hunters.

The Jets have beaten the Hunters the past two times. The Jets won 28-10 in 2019 and 6-4 in 2018.

The Jets have beaten the Hunters five times compared to the seven times the Hunters have lowered the Jets colours.

The Hunters will be looking for their first win of 2021 after they lost round one to Wynnum. At half time PNG were looking buried - down 18-6 but they fought back to lose 20-18.

The Hunters had 53% of the ball but kept giving Wynnum chances and coupled with their poor start it was too much to overcome.

The Jets lost to Townsville 46-12. Similar to the Hunters, the Jets gave away a big start and then struggled to get momentum back.

The Jets had 48% of the ball and kept making things too hard.

Ipswich gave the Blackhawks 36 more runs which resulted in 309 more metres and six-line breaks.

The dam burst and the Jets couldn't get the wall up.

Ipswich Jets captain Nat Neale. Picture: David Lems
Ipswich Jets captain Nat Neale. Picture: David Lems

Jets captain Nat Neale was exceptional in a beaten side with a game high 43 tackles and zero misses.

"You're right. It felt like we were just too slow to get started,'' Neale said.

"We missed that third trial and they were just too slick.

"It's like they were playing July football and we were playing February football.

"We tried too hard and once you get in that situation it can spiral out of control. Everyone is trying to fix something and nothing gets fixed.

"It's fixable. We know what went wrong so what we do this week is fix it and apply ourselves to rectifying it this week."

CAPTAIN'S CALL: Inspired leader works hard after extended break

On the other side of the field, Jets' winger Peter Gubb was carving out 130 metres of ground.

"I think we have a few things to work on this week for the Hunters," Gubb said.

"The six again rule is going to be such an important part of the game and the team that adapts and figures that out first will prosper.

"We gave them too many repeat sets. I don't think I remember them having to kick long because they were always finishing sets 30 meters out from our line and attacking.

"When you keep giving teams that good ball position you're so tired that tackling becomes very hard and you're making mistakes on your line not 50 metres out.

"Against the Hunters we just need to consolidate what we did well and really refocus."

The Hunters debuted six players against the Seagulls but one of them wasn't Watson Boas.

Boas has played 66 games for the Hunters. He is the calm voice in troubled times for the Hunters who are living away from home this year and only have a squad of 24 players available to them.

"The Jets are a unique challenge, we plan the same way for every team but the Jets," Boas said.

"To be honest with you they frustrate me.

"We haven't had any trial games. We had to quarantine so Saturday was our first game. It will take us a while to be warmed up and playing good football.

"I think we can improve on what we did against Wynnum and we have the same 17 ready to go again."

Players to watch

Pandia v Wapi: Terry Wapi is making a try scoring habit of round one every season. The two-Test Kumul is a weapon in attack and will need to be stopped.

In 2020, he scored three tries in the Hunters win over Souths and then last week he scored a try just after halftime that got the Hunters back into the game. The fullback now has nine tries in 13 Intrust Super Cup games.

Wapi ended up with 175 metres, one try and two line breaks from round one.

The Jets two-Test Kumul Richard Pandia loves the challenge every week. Pandia was very good against the Blackhawks.

"I treat every team the same,'' Pandia said. "Playing the Hunters doesn't fire me up more than any other team."

He likes running the ball strongly for 121 metres and getting into dummy half seven times to help out and make ground.

"I felt like I was strong but we were very rusty and you could see the cobwebs being blown out,'' he said.

Pandia starts the Jets sets off in good position and his scoots out of dummy half take pressure off the Jets' forwards.

"We have a young team and they will only be better for the round one game,'' he said.

Promising starts for newcomers

THE Jets had three debutants on Saturday against the Blackhawks. Todd White, Jordan Carriera, and Zac Hetherington all played their first game in the Intrust Super Cup for Ipswich.

Hetherington played the full 80 minutes in the second row making 91 metres and 28 tackles.

"It was faster than I thought it would be. I was surprised by the pace and strength of the Blackhawks," Hetherington said.

"Nat Neale was excellent out there. He kept having a word to me and keeping me going.

"Keiron (coach Keiron Lander) said to have fun and reiterated the message that you're here for a reason."

Hetherington's famous dad is Bulldog great Jason Hetherington who played two years at the Jets.

"Dad had a little cry when he got home. He was pretty emotional,'' Hetherington said.

Winger Carriera got a try on debut and took the ball into the Blackhawks defence eight times and made 12 tackles.

"The try was a highlight. It wasn't just my first game for the Jets but my first game against men," Carriera said.

"It was fast and the Blackhawks are so organised it was great to be out there with the boys and playing."

EARLY POSITIVE: Debutants gain valuable experience

Todd White got to play for the Jets with his brother - Jets centre Ben.

Todd played 45 minutes off the bench and made an outstanding 26 tackles with zero missed.

"Playing with Ben and him presenting my jumper was a highlight," White said.

"I was surprised by my fitness. I handled it much better than I thought I would.

"My lungs were hurting out there it was fast but I handled it fitness wise so that was comforting.

"I think all the things that went wrong we can fix, so we just need to get ready for the Hunters.

"It was a great day for my family with Ben and my wife Hayley here. I was really happy to be a Jet."

Cyril Connell, Mal Meninga match reviews

THE Jets Mal Meninga and Cyril Connell teams didn't have a great day out at the North Ipswich Reserve with both teams losing their round three games.

The Mal Meninga boys went down to Souths Logan 26-24.

Coach Michael Armstrong was disappointed with the start to the game.

"Souths scored four times in the first 33 minutes which makes it really hard to come back," Armstrong said.

"It's probably a good outcome to only lose by two.

"It means we showed fight. It was 16-4 at halftime. To score 20 points in the second half shows what we can do when we value the ball."

Ipswich's Cyril Connell Challenge team had a long night against Souths, going down 40-10.

Coach Jye Tuaiamau-Gadsdon lamented missed opportunity.

"It was probably the only time this year the coaching staff have been disappointed," Tuaiamau-Gadsdon said.

"We looked at Souths and our players pulled apart what they do and thought we could exploit that but we just didn't do it on the day.

"Even when they had a player in the sinbin we didn't take advantage of that extra player we just played through the middle.

"No edge to another edge to find the extra man.

"We have the week off now so just have to get ready for our next game."

Cooper's stat

THE Ipswich Jets made 84 more tackles than the Blackhawks in last Saturday night's 2021 Intrust Super Cup season opener.