While things didn’t start well for Ipswich off the field with captain and halfback Dane Phillips ruled out on game day with food poisoning – on the field was a different story with the Jets firing up early to signal their intent against the Magpies.
The game at Davies Park began with “The Marmin Barba Show”, with the winger posting three tries in the first 15 minutes to get the Jets started.
Barba hadn’t scored since Round 1, which for last year’s leading try scorer was officially a drought after scoring 54 tries in his previous 49 games for the Jets.
His first of the day started on the right-hand side of the field before it came back to his left via a Chris Ash pass and he ran 30m to score.
The next came after Ipswich were able to keep threatening the Magpies’ line and had a feast of possession. The movement started on the right of the posts and went through the hands to Carlin Anderson who put in a pin-point grubber for a flying Barba to get try number two to put the visitors up 8-0 after 11 minutes.
Barba’s third try started with a Souths’ kick over on the Jets’ right hand side in attacking position. Rory Humphreys off-loaded to Haydan Lipp who went up field looking for support and found Richard Pandia The play then swept to the left via three passes; the last one to Sam Martin who threw a cut-out pass to his unmarked winger to score for a 14-0 lead which the Jets held until halftime.
By the 20th minute, the Magpies had been called on to make 18 more tackles than the Jets and had been starved of any ball.
The Magpies started the second half the way they had to with giant forward former junior George Fai targeting Landon Hayes one-on-one and trampling over him to score, cutting the Jets’ lead to 14-6 after 45 minutes.
The Jets answered with XXXX man of the match Josh Seage who was outstanding all day fielding a kick and getting through the line to find Lipp again who scored his second try this year. The Jets now led 20-6 after 50 minutes.
Next, it was back to the left hand side for Nemani Valekapa to score his 32nd try for the Jets after some smart work from hooker Hayes to give the Jets a 24-6 lead.
Souths then enlisted the service of another big forward with Caleb Timu taking a great ball from Sam Scarlett to find a gap between Sam Martin and Chris Ash. On the scoreboard, the gap was then reduced to 24-12 after 58 minutes.
The Magpies went in again, this time in the left corner after running it on the fifth tackle and Leon Panapa scored to give the Magpies a chance at 24-16 with 14 minutes to go.
However, this prompted Sebastian Pandia to go on a wrecking ball run and take half of Souths with him; starting 35m out, he just kept going to score in the corner and give the Jets the winning lead of 28-16 with nine minutes remaining.
The last try of the day was scored by Souths’ centre Scott Doyle, who cut back inside to reduce the Jets’ winning margin to 28-20.