THE Ipswich Jets have made an impressive start to 2014, winning two of three trials against Easts and losing narrowly to the defending Queensland Cup champions in the top grade.
Jets coaches Shane and Ben Walker left the Laidley Recreational Ground delighted with what they had seen after Saturday’s matches in all grades.
In first grade, the Jets were without seven first-choice players while Easts, featuring former Jets Jarrod McInally and Jacob Ling, were near full strength bar their dual-signed Melbourne Storm players.
Shane Walker admitted his team had exceeded expectations in going down three tries to two.
“We were very happy,” Walker said.
“We’ve always been confident.
“But it was really positive to see we were probably a little bit better than where we thought we were.”
The Jets were missing captain Keiron Lander, fullback Javarn White, back rowers Sam Martin, Kurtis Lingwoodock and Rod Griffin, hooker Matt Parcell and utility Troy O’Sullivan.
“It gave a lot of other boys an opportunity,” Walker said.
“When you lose a lot of experience, you fill it with someone which gives others an opportunity to impress.”
Walker praised fullback/centre Kurt Capewell, centre Nemani Valekapa and prop Bill McConachie.
McConachie, a Mt Isa product who played reserve grade for the Jets last year, set the tone early, letting Easts know it was a trial in name only.
“He shortened a few up,” Walker said.
“In the second tackle, he lined-up one of Easts’ new recruits, an ex-Melbourne player, and hit him with everything.
“He left the field.
“He hit him that hard he either dislocated the other bloke’s shoulder or separated his AC joint.”
Unfortunately for the Jets, McConachie’s trial ended with a “nasty ankle injury” that could see him sidelined for some time.
“It gave them a lift,” Walker said of the effect McConachie’s hit had on his teammates.
“I think a few of the Easts boys didn’t run with the same intensity after that.”
The Jets’ tries were scored by Capewell and halfback Dane Phillips.
Also spending time in the halves in the main game were Hayden Lipp, Ollie Olds and Chris Ash, all of whom impressed Walker.
The coach said it was still too early to tell who had his nose in front in the fight to accompany Phillips once the season-proper begins.
Others to impress were returned fullback Wes Conlon, hooker Kali Nauqe, forward Mahe Paseka and five-eighth/lock Josh Cleeland.
“Wes Conlon has a bit of x-factor about him,” Walker said.
“He’s an out-and-out footballer.
“Mahe played 60 minutes in FOGS then came up to us and set up the first try.
“He showed he can play first grade.”
The Jets travel to play Norths in trials next weekend.
First grade: Easts 12 def Ipswich 8 (Dane Phillips, Kurt Capewell tries).
Reserve grade: Ipswich 24 (Kali Nauqe, Tom Williams, Wes Conlon, Jack Wallace, Chris Gelhaar, Judah Lavulo tries) def Easts 16.
Colts: Ipswich 34 (Daniel Nolan 2, Carlin Anderson 2, Michael Payne, Dale McDonald, Tre Sheppard tries; Tre Sheppard 3 goals) def Easts 32.
Thanks to Jay Buchan, Claudia Baxter and the QT, for more go to – http://www.qt.com.au/news/impressive-jets-launch-mission/2157825/