Courtesy of Ben Wilmott at the QT
IPSWICH have rolled the dice and come up winners in bizarre conditions at the weekend.
Up against Wynnum Manly in the BRL preliminary final, the Ipswich Jets were unsure whether the game would go ahead as torrential rain descended on Emerson Park.
Putting the vote to his players, Jets coach Mark Bishop elected to take the field despite the risk of further storms.
“I haven’t seen anything like that in a long time,” Bishop said of the conditions.
“The rain was coming sideways and there was about two inches of water across the whole field.
“With the grand final next week they didn’t really have much option to replay it so I asked the boys what they wanted to do.
“They all said we want to play.”
Needing a win over the minor premiers to book a grand final clash with Redcliffe, the defending premiers put their season on the line as soon as they took the field.
“The risk was that if Wynnum scored first and another storm hit that the game would be called off and they would win,” Bishop said. “Then they scored early and I thought to myself here we go.”
The Seagulls would score twice through winger Liam Clark and second-rower Brad Mana to take a 12-0 lead over Ipswich.
With pressure mounting as time wore on, the Jets dug deep in the second half as they fired back to a 16-12 lead in the final minutes.
Tries to Lachlan Roe, Max Felosi and Mitch Koina brought the defending premier back from the brink with sharpshooter Josh Damen adding the extras.
“The weather didn’t help our footwork but we just backed our own style,” Bishop said.
“When Wynnum got the lead it probably steeled their resolve to just kick their way out of trouble and take the ball up through the middle.
“We knew that was how they were going to play and the boys stuck to their guns and defended their line.”
Surviving four repeat sets on their own line and a disallowed try in the final minutes, the victory means the Jets now face a grand final clash with the Redcliffe Dolphins.
With a chance to win back-to-back premierships, Bishop admitted the excitement was starting to build down at North Ipswich Reserve.
“It was always the goal at the start of the year to be in the grand final,” he said.
“We haven’t really spoken about it too much because we want to focus on each game ahead but now that we are there.
“The boys are all getting excited but they know how to look after themselves.
“They don’t need me to reinforce what next week means.
“Any grand final is a big win for the club and it’s up to us to try and create another bit of history for these guys who are playing.”
The grand final will be played from 3.30pm on Saturday at Bishop Park.
State of play
BRL preliminary final: Ipswich Jets 16 (Lachlan Roe, Max Felosi, Mitch Koina tries; Josh Damen 2 goals) def Wynnum Manly Redland City Seagulls 12 (Liam Clark, Brad Mana tries) at Emerson Park.