LATE BLAS T SEES JETS FLY HOME
NOT even the outback chill could take the fire out of another Townsville Blackhawks and Ipswich Jets showdown, with the Jets snatching a 22- 20 win in Winton on Saturday night.
The Blackhawks were their own worst enemies, with a low completion rate combined with sloppy options keeping Ipswich in the contest in front of a pro Blackhawks crowd at Winton’s Eric Lenton Memorial Ground.
Trailing 12- 4 at halftime, the Blackhawks unleashed a three- try blitz in eight minutes through Blake Leary, Sione Lousi and Jonathon Rueben to make it 20- 12.
The game was in the Blackhawks’ hands, but Ipswich – not a team for the orthodox – hit back through prop Nat Neale following some razzle dazzle play, and hooker Luke Capewell then put Ipswich in front with an elusive solo effort with less than 15 minutes remaining.
The Blackhawks had plenty of time to respond and almost did when Leary powered through to Ipswich’s in- goal, only to have the ball raked.
Another promising set from an Ipswich line dropout then came undone with a sloppy last play option, Kyle Laybutt’s kick dropping safely to the feet of Jets’ winger Richard Pandia.
The Blackhawks remain fifth on the Q Cup ladder, but leave Winton having wasted a huge opportunity to enter the top four with four games remaining until finals.
Blackhawks coach Kristian Woolf, whose team lost the 2015 grand final against the Jets, rejected any talk of the Jets being the Blackhawks’ bogey side.
“I don’t think they are at all,” he said.
“For whatever reason we probably looked at them a bit on the ladder this weekend and to be honest we weren’t quite as prepared for a close game as we needed to be.
“That’s something we need to learn and grow from, and make sure we’re better next week.
“We’re still sitting inside the ( top) six and we need to make sure we’re really good in the last four games and have a genuine crack at the finals.”
The Blackhawks started the Country Week game with a glut of possession, and were rewarded after 10 minutes when centre Jordan Drew posted the game’s opening try by finishing off a shape play down the left edge, making it 4- 0 with a missed conversion.
The Jets kept chancing their arm, however, and soon hit back when lock Tyson Lofipo barged over under the posts on Ipswich’s first attacking raid.
Jets centre Marion Seve then made it 12- 4 by shrugging off three Blackhawks defenders, and Wes Conlon made no mistake with the easy conversion.
The Blackhawks had further scoring opportunities, and Lousi almost got his team’s second try with a powerful effort, only for some desperate Ipswich defence to stop the hulking prop in his tracks.
Ipswich would not threaten Townsville’s tryline for the rest of the half, with all the attacking opportunities coming the Blackhawks’ way, although poor completions – 10 from 17 sets – and a below- par kicking game curtailed any hopes of narrowing the deficit before halftime.
Reuben was placed on report for a second half heavy tackle and could face a nervous wait with the match review committee, but halfback Michael Parker- Walshe may return from a hamstring injury ahead of this weekend’s away game against Burleigh.
Saturday’s day in Winton included junior games and a pair of curtain- raisers, with All Souls St Gabriels beating Blackheath & Thornburgh College 32- 10, and Winton Devils secured home time pride with a 32- 10 win over Ilfracombe Devils.
Former NRL hooker Nathan Friend was among match day guests, along with Sports Minister Mick De Brenni.