Round 5 - Intrust Super Cup Rugby League.  Ipswich Jets vs Northern Pride playing at North Ipswich Reserve.
Round 5 - Intrust Super Cup Rugby League. Ipswich Jets vs Northern Pride playing at North Ipswich Reserve. Franca Tigani

Walker sings praises of 'best since Cherry-Evans'

TODD Carney's arrival at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday had the tongues of rugby league fans wagging.

But it was Carney's partner in the Pride halves whose tape was most viewed by the Jets during the week.

"Jake Clifford, as I said to our boys, he's the best halfback we've coached against since Daly Cherry-Evans,” Jets co-coach Shane Walker said.

"He's a really smart footballer for a kid, and physically he's quite a presence too. He's a really dangerous half - a genuine NRL halfback. They're tough to defend against.

"There was a lot of hype about Todd Carney coming into the game. Everyone to the layman thought we had to do a good job on him, but Clifford was the one we were most worried about.”

Round 5 - Intrust Super Cup Rugby League.  Ipswich Jets vs Northern Pride playing at North Ipswich Reserve. Julian Christian.
Round 5 - Intrust Super Cup Rugby League. Ipswich Jets vs Northern Pride playing at North Ipswich Reserve. Julian Christian. Franca Tigani

On the Jets' side of the ball, Dane Phillips and Julian Christian's fledgling partnership continued to flourish.

"Our halves were outstanding,” Walker said.

"Julian troubled them with every run, and did a wonderful job in defence.

"The key for Julian is to get in the game straight away, he's one of those guys that needs to get dirt on his jersey early in the game, one way or the other.”

Clifford and Carney's pinpoint kicking were key to the Pride's 12-2 half time lead, but Phillips proved just as pivotal for the green and white in their second-half fightback.

He forced multiple repeat sets with deft kicks to the in-goal.

"As we've said a number of times, Dane has the best short-kicking game in any competition. He's a freak,” Walker said.

Walker was thrilled with how his side responded against "a genuine top four team”.

"To be down 12-0 and come back (to win) is testament to our boys to keep them scoreless in the second half,” Walker said.

"They're a tough team, we had to really be on our game to win.”

Walker felt the Jets' second half was one of their best 40-minute stretches of the season so far.

"To be as controlled and as dominant as we were in the second half, it was certainly up there,” he said.

"Often our boys get a lot of credit for their attack, and for the flashy stuff. That was there too, but this year it's been our defence. Everyone is doing a really good job. The confidence is there, and everyone understands their role.”