Courtesy of Ben Wilmott at The QT.
FELLED by an unfortunate run-in with a sprinkler at training, Ipswich Jets enforcer Nate Neale was forced to watch his team record their fifth straight win.
With a four-try haul to winger Michael Purcell, the defending premiers gave their finals hopes a big boost with an impressive 38-6 win over the Mackay Cutters.
The Ipswich have climbed into sixth spot preparing to tackle competition leaders Burleigh at Charleville on Saturday.
Despite the Cutters boasting a monster forward pack and plenty of NRL experience, the Jets kept their opponents scoreless for 70 minutes of the game before second rower Andrew Davey finally cracked the home side’s defence.
Neale has played a huge part of the Jets defence this season, currently leading the team’s tackle count with 507 from 16 games.
While the Jets attack clicked, Neale was particularly impressed with his teammates’ willingness to defend their own try line.
“We’ve been working on that a lot at training,” Neale said.
“There has been a big emphasis on the boys putting bodies in front and getting shots on off the line. That’s how we’ve been able to get a few wins together.”
With fellow forwards Tyson Lofipo and Jesse Roberts scoring a try apiece and “kangaroo-catcher” Michael Purcell adding to his impressive attacking statistics, Neale enjoyed the opportunity to see what it was like to be a Jets fan in the stands.
“That was a good one to watch especially in the wet conditions,” he said.
“It’s always good to be winning and Michael Purcell just knows where to pop up. His new nickname is the Pokemon catcher.”
Up against the formidable size of North Queensland Cowboys centre Tautau Moga, the Jets left side defence of Richard Pandia and Nemani Valekapa were determined to keep the Cutters strike weapon quiet.
Under a constant downpour of rain the Jets refused to restrict their expansive play.
Mackay were caught out expecting the battle to be fought through the middle of the pitch, as the Jets halves showed they weren’t afraid to fire off 30 metre passes from side to side.
The combination of Purcell and fullback Wes Conlon continues to grow each week and the speed of play provided plenty of headaches for the large Mackay pack.
“For us the weather doesn’t play any role in what we do,” Neale said.
“Rain, hail or shine it’s just who we are. We’re not afraid to move the ball around and test the opposition.”
The win over Mackay puts Ipswich in a strong position to make a push for the last remaining spot in the final six.
However the Jets face a tough run home to the finals, with back-to-back games against top three teams Burleigh, PNG and Redcliffe before meeting Tweed Heads and fellow finals hopefuls Wynnum.
With each win crucial to the Jets hopes of defending their 2015 premiership title, Neale hopes to be back in time for this weekend’s game against the Burleigh Bears in Charleville.
“I should be back in time for Burleigh,” he said.
“I would have been there this week but at the end of training on Tuesday I fell into one of the sprinkler holes on the final run. I got shot down by the sniper.”
State of play
Intrust Super Cup: Ipswich Jets 38 (Michael Purcell 4, Jesse Roberts, Wes Conlon, Tyson Lofipo tries; Wes Conlon 5 goals) def Mackay Cutters 6 (Andrew Davey try; Liam Taylor goal) at North Ipswich Reserve.
BRL: West Brisbane Panthers 24 (Kennedy Pettyborne 2, Kyran Tanuvasa, James Sharkie tries; Liam Tyson 4 goals) def Ipswich Jets 18 (Peter Whittaker, Nathan Gaulton, Hugh Sedger tries; Ono So’Oialo 3 goals) at Kev McKell Oval, Arana Hills.
Colts: Sunshine Coast Falcons 42 (Beau Fermor, Baidon Cooper, Brody Riseborough, Jarrod Crook, Ishaq Lesa 2, Dakota Tolhurst tries; Dev Long 5, Baidon Cooper, Jarred Dash goals) def Ipswich Jets 18 (Tristan Davis 2, Carter Auld tries; Adrian Elder 3 goals) at North Ipswich Reserve.