Victorious Jets return home to help Maroons
THE Ipswich Jets answered their critics the only way they know how in a determined rebound display.
After last week's stunning capitulation to the competition leading Sunshine Coast, the Jets hit back with a 34-20 triumph over the Mackay Cutters.
Impressed with his side's Friday night away performance, co-coach Ben Walker said the Jets needed to respond after the lop-sided encounter with the Falcons and they played accordingly.
"It was good to return to the winner's circle,'' Walker said, preparing for another big mission this afternoon helping the Queensland State of Origin side.
Walker said the Jets were happy to assist the Maroons with their preparations for Wednesday night's clash and it was a great opportunity for his charges to learn from the best in the game.
"We are a bit busted up, so I'm not sure how they'll pull up," he said. "But it is great for them to have a game against Queensland.
"Any time you are training and playing with elite players you are going to pick up something. And it is nice to be involved in a small way."
Playing in unusually cool conditions in Mackay, both teams took time to warm to the contest.
The Cutters were first to trouble the scorers through a penalty goal by former Ipswich Jets fullback Carlin Anderson.
When Ipswich relinquished possession on their own try line shortly after, the Cutters had extended their early advantage to 6-0.
As it did several times throughout the see-sawing affair, momentum shifted. .
Following sustained pressure, Blake Lenehan barged over next to the posts.
Moments later, the Jets had another try when experienced forward Josh Seage sliced through the defence.
As the half-time siren sounded, utility Jayden Connors jagged Ipswich's third, scoring under the posts following a deft short-ball.
The second half followed a similar course. Three tries in quick succession had the Cutters back in front 20-16 in the 58th minute.
But the hosts lead was short-lived with Jets five-eighth Josh Cleeland stepping through some tired defence to set up fullback Marmin Barba for a four-pointer on return to his old stomping ground.
When flimsy defence around the ruck presented Ipswich hard man Billy McConnachie with a passage to the line, the margin had been restored to eight points.
Ipswich hammered the final nail into the coffin, with Rogan Dean streaking away on the overlap to put the 14-point win beyond doubt.
In his return to the team, Cleeland was masterful. His kicking game strangled the life out of the Cutters, forcing seven repeat sets and keeping the pressure firmly on them.
Walker said everyone played their part but he was particularly pleased with the progress of his halves pairing.
"Josh was good," he said. "Him and Julian have been working well together. While those two are playing together, it gives us a chance to win. "
He also praised the valuable contributions of Lenehan and Mitch Carpenter, who both had hands in decisive tries.
State of Play
Intrust Super Cup Rd 12: Ipswich Jets 34 (Blake Lenehan, Josh Seage, Jayden Connors, Marmin Barba, Billy McConnachie, Rogan Dean tries; Josh Cleeland 5 conversions) def Mackay Cutters 20 (Yamba Bowie 2, Reuben Cotter, Carlin Anderson; Carlin Anderson 1 conversion; Carlin Anderson 1 goal).