TRY BONANZA: Ipswich Jets speedster Michael Purcell in his trademark scoring form.
TRY BONANZA: Ipswich Jets speedster Michael Purcell in his trademark scoring form. Rob Williams

Time for Jets to stop 'wedding crashers'

JETS BUZZ

 

MACKAY are coming to Ipswich this weekend and the Cutters have proven themselves to be the guest at the wedding that can't behave.

With their tie around their head and swearing in front of grandma, the Cutters have beaten the Jets on their past two trips to Ipswich.

In 2017, Mackay defeated the Jets on Old Boys' Day 30-20. Last year they upended the Jets 28-18.

The Jets haven't beaten Mackay in Ipswich since round 19 in 2016. That was 38-6 with Michael Purcell scoring four tries.

Purcell is the guest you want at your house. He's crossed for nine tries in four games against Mackay. A four-try haul in 2016 and a three-try avalanche last year plus two singles make up his bonanza.

Purcell needs one try to be equal with Ricky Bird on 64. A try on Saturday night will place Purcell equal third most tries for the Jets.

The Cutters have won four times at the Reserve and once at Briggs Road in their history for five wins in Ipswich.

The Jets have won six out of the last nine games between these two sides. The Jets have it over the Cutters in the overall wins 14-8.

Both the Jets and Cutters had disappointing previous games.

The Jets came away from home with a loss to Souths after looking a million dollars with two tries in the first 10 minutes while the Cutters lost to Norths in Mackay.

Every team needs a big red head and for the Cutters it's Dan Russell, the Cowboys contracted centre.

Russell is hard to bring down because he's tall and all arms and legs at angles. Russell has run for 2127m from his 19 games this year which places him 36th in the Intrust Super Cup and the fourth most for the Cutters.

"We have been playing well as a team all year. Things just have gone wrong at times throughout the game," Russell said.

"It's really important to finish this year well, and that will be my aim for Saturday night.

"The Jets have danger all over the field and we will be out to nullify those threats."

The Jets had a similar amount of ball to the Cutters and suffered comparable fate. Just 44% of the ball makes it impossible to beat anyone.

The Jets missed 59 tackles and kept putting themselves under pressure with penalties.

Jets forward Ben Shea lamented the lost opportunity after working hard against the Magpies.

"Missing finals is a bit strange and your motivation now for the next two weeks has to be personal pride, you don't want to let yourself down or your mates," Shea said.

"You never know who is retiring, moving on or might be about to move up to the NRL so two weeks of playing horrible football can have an impact in lots of ways.''

The Jets might have to do without Josh Cleeland who was knocked unconscious on Saturday and was still suffering effects during the week.

Old Boys Day

WHEN I was younger, Boxing Day and Grand Final Day were my favourite days of the year. They meant sunshine, TV and BBQ. It was glorious.

Old Boy's Day at the Jets is on the podium with the other days for best day.

When you're a primary school teacher that struggles to catch a ball but love league, Old Boy's day is a chance for a beer with a Walters brother.

Old Boys' Day is an opportunity for all 600 Jets and previous staff to get together and celebrate the year.

I caught up with some former Jets to find out why Old Boy's Day is important to them.

Andrew Walters is keen to get to Old Boys' Day.

"I have very fond memories of my time at the Jets and made some lifelong friends from that period," Walters said.

"It's great to catch up with old team mates and staff from that time and reminisce. It's also great to show our support to the current Jets players and is always an enjoyable day."

Older brother Kevin Walters was exact for his reasons for celebrating Old Boy's Day.

"Old boy's Day is a chance to get out and see people you don't see,'' he said.

"We all get busy in our bubble and Old Boy's Day is a chance to get out of it and into the Jets bubble.

"Not just see players but staff too. Any club I have been involved with has had great staff and the Jets have some of the best."

The night will feature two Ipswich hooking greats in Jason Hetherington and Noel Kelly there.

There will be a combined 30 Tests, 16 games for Queensland, 377 games for the Bulldogs and Magpies, five grand finals and the Wests, Queensland and Australian team of the century hooking spot on stage.

"I can't wait to get out to Ipswich, been a while since I have been to an Old Boys' Day but it's a chance to catch up and tell some stories,'' Hetherington said.

Magpies hard man Kelly will be returning to Ipswich.

"I think it's been 10 years since I was in Ipswich,'' Kelly said. "It's been a while. I think I will see plenty of changes.

"I am looking forward to getting back there and watching the Jets have a win."

Medal race on

THE Petero Civoniceva Medal race is drawing to a climatic conclusion and the Intrust Super Cup player of the year will be coming away with the prestigious award.

When the voting went secret after round 12, the leader was Falcons Harry Grant on 17 points.

His nearest Jet was Nat Neale and reigning champion on 14 points.

"I think Neale will be there again,'' Civoniceva said.

"It's going to take something special to stop a Falcon player winning it.

"Sometimes with those teams that have really good years. They take votes off each other so someone can sneak under their guard.

"Of course my preference is to always give it to a front rower."

Cooper's stat

MARMIN Barba needs three points to have the most points for the Jets.

He currently has 592 behind Steven West on 594.

Barba has 80 tries from 91 games for the Jets, with 136 goals.

A cold beer with . . .

Ross Strudwick strode through the Brisbane Rugby League like a colossus. His Valleys teams of the late 70's were not to be messed with, winning a 1979 premiership 26-0 over Souths. I sat down with the cheeky half to sort out a few things.

How did you end up at the Dragons? My Grandma was sick and we moved to the Dragons area to look after her when I was about seven and I started playing for Renown United and got picked up by the Dragons. I moved to Queensland. Senator McAuliffe said you can play for whomever you want and I picked Valleys.

A young Wally Lewis was in your Valleys teams. What did you teach him? I have been blamed for a lot of things in regard to Wally. Wally and I are great mates and he just needed some guidance. A lot of guys have talent but they don't get that guidance off the field. Wally was lazy too I know that. Plenty of times I had to remind him about training hard. Wally just loved football and he was around it his whole life. I knew him from when he was about 12.

You coached Brothers to the last pre-Broncos premiership in 1987, how much pride do you take in that? We had a lot of adversity to overcome with Brothers. The club was broke so guys weren't getting paid in 1987 so the extra challenge was to keep guys happy and focused on and off the field. It was a challenging year.

What do you remember about battles at Ipswich? Their first game in 1986 and Tommy (Raudonikis) had them breathing fire. We got dressed and wandered past their sheds and heard Tommy and his plan seemed to centre on bashing us. I pulled us together and said new plan: We kick it back to them and we bash them. So we just kicked it on the first.

Do you have a favourite Ipswich player from your time in the game? Hugh O'Doherty was with us at Valleys and he worked in the sports store in Ipswich for me. Just a great guy and I will miss him.