AS WINTER looms, the enthusiastic gloss of the start of the season has worn off and cold, dark training sessions seem to drag on, it is the mental strength that separates the successful from the rest.
Which is why Keiron Lander was able to enjoy the two-hour flight back from Mackay yesterday.
Lander’s Jets had secured the two competition points with a 36-20 win over rivals for a top three spot on the ladder, Mackay Cutters.
The win came despite the Jets never hitting the highs they have proved capable of this season.
The Jets led 22-8 at half-time having had the help of a near gale.
“We handled it in patches better than what they did,” Lander said.
Midway through the second half the Jets resilience was tested, with the home side enjoying a ton of possession which, combined with the wind, kept the Jets pinned.
“They came at us defensively a couple of times and we dealt with it,” Lander said.
“If you kicked the ball in the air it would nearly go backwards.
“But we still let in a few too many tries and they put a bit of pressure on us.
“Some of our one-on-one stuff has got to be better.
“And players shooting in when they’ve not needed to.
“There’s little things we can get better at.”
It may not have been a peak performance but at no stage did the Jets appear threatened by Mackay.
The visitors justifiably moved ahead of the Cutters into a clear cut top three, alongside Wynnum Manly and leaders Townsville.
“They were tough without worrying us,” Lander said.
“We worry ourselves at times.”
What is of no cause for worry is the form of Jets five-eighth Josh Cleeland.
Cleeland has been singled out by his teammates, captain and coaches in recent weeks for his dominant presence.
“Every week Ben and Shane (coaches Ben and Shane Walker) want him to improve and back his ability,” Lander said.
“He’s grown in confidence.
“He’s picking his times more and demanding the ball more.
“We’ve got plenty of young fellas coming through, which is the pleasing thing.”
The Jets turn their thoughts to Saturday’s home clash with Tweed Heads with Lander determined to avoid his team becoming complacent.
“The effort is a week-to-week basis and a lot of this time of year is mental,” he said.
“You do what it takes to get two points.
“I’m think we’re in better stead at this stage than in previous years.
“We’ve got less injuries and the blokes know what to expect.
“And the blokes coming through know what they need to do for the team.
“We’re enjoying our footy and each other’s company.”
State of Play
Qld Cup: Ipswich Jets 36 (Matt Parcell 3, Carlin Anderson, Nemani Valekapa, Josh Cleeland, Sam Martin tries; Carlin Anderson 4 goals) def Mackay Cutters 20 (Cameron Cullen 2, Jordan Pereira, Justin Tavae tries; Liam Taylor 2 goals).