Streamlined Jets in super win

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THE Ipswich Jets pulled off a dominant 32-22 victory over the previously unbeaten Wynnum Manly Seagulls at the North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday.

It was an impressive performance form the Jets, given they were without eight first-choice regulars and were fielding debutants in Josh Cleeland and Kali Nauqe.

Jets coaches Ben and Shane Walker took a calculated gamble, stacking their bench with smaller, skilful players, rather than big forwards.

It didn’t appear to be paying off when the Jets trailed 10-0 after 15 minutes. But tries to winger Kurt Capewell and fullback Wes Conlon saw the Jets lead 12-10 at the break.

The Seagulls scored first in the second half but on a hot afternoon the Jets’ decision to go in with a lightweight pack and bench paid off, as they ran Wynnum-Manly ragged.

Jets fullback Wes Conlon was involved in almost everything, scoring a second try and setting up one for centre Brendon Marshall, before two more Jets tries sealed the win.

One was scored by Josh Seage, who had made his top grade debut the week before and is a former Swifts teammate of Conlon and Cleeland in the Ipswich Rugby League.

Cleeland was called off the bench and played most of the second half when Haydan Lipp left the field with a shoulder injury.

“It was faster (than the Ipswich Rugby League),” Cleeland said. “Probably tougher too.

“There were some big fellas in there. Way quicker, but I was alright once I caught my second breath.”

Cleeland adapted quickly and did all that was required of him to help his team get home.

“I kept doing things the easy way,” Cleeland said.

“I didn’t want to do anything over the top. Just defended hard and no mistakes.

“I did my job and the coaches said they were happy so I’m happy.”

Cleeland was the IRL player-of-the-year last season but has made no secret of his desire to crack the Jets’ Queensland Cup squad.

Whether he remains there may well depend on Lipp’s injury and the return of a number of players absent on Saturday.

“My goal was to get in at some stage this year,” he said. “So it was good to get my first go at it.”

Cleeland admitted he was nervous before the game, partly because it brought back memories of his serious knee injury from two years ago.

It was at the same venue against the same opponents, albeit in the Colts competition, that he wrecked his knee.

Getting through unscathed on Saturday has given his confidence a huge boost.

“It sure has,” he said.

“It wasn’t as hard as I thought physically.

“Now I’ve got to go back to training and keep moving forward.”

Ipswich will play away against Burleigh on Sunday.

State of play

Ipswich Jets 32 (Wes Conlon 2, Kurt Capewell, Brendon Marshall, Josh Seage, Marmin Barba tries; Wes Conlon 2, Haydan Lipp 2 goals) def Wynnum Manly Seagulls 22 (Dylan Smith 2, Peter Gubb, Mitchell Frei tries; Kurt French 2, John Te Reo goals) at North Ipswich Reserve.