THE Ipswich Jets have regained that winning feeling in the Queensland Cup.
Ipswich bounced back to winning ways with a 42-30 defeat of Norths at the North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday.
The Jets dominated early, making it look easy at times, and took a commanding 26-6 lead late in the first half.
That was despite losing hooker Michael Fisher to a rib injury five minutes into the match.
Jets co-coach Shane Walker admitted Fisher’s absence affected the team’s rhythm but their response was one of the most pleasing things to come from the game.
“We put Sam Martin in there,” Walker said of the versatile back-rower.
“I doubt very much he’s played a game at hooker in his life. You can lose your flow from dummy half when your hooker goes off.
“But Sam did a wonderful job. His defence was outstanding.
“We just lacked that finesse we normally have when Fish or Lace (Ian Lacey) is in there.
“But what was pleasing was there were periods when Javarn (fullback Javarn White) was getting into dummy half to get a better pass away. It’s encouraging when blokes can make those decisions on the run.”
It is also vindication for the way the Walkers treat their players.
“Responsibility is one thing we give our players,” Walker said.
“We treat them like men and they act like men.”
The disruption at hooker didn’t slow the flow enough to prevent centre Donald Malone and winger Jarrod McInally revelling out wide. McInally scored four tries as he cashed in on a rich vein of recent form.
In the forwards, Walker was excited by the contributions of back-rowers Kurtis Lingwoodock and Keiron Lander.
Both have taken their time getting back to best form after late starts to the season. But they continued their upward curve in terms of minutes played and performance against Norths.
“He is getting better and better,” Walker said of Lingwoodock.
“He’s coming up with some really big plays. He’s just an out-and-out footballer.”
Ipswich has jumped above Norths into seventh on the Queensland Cup ladder, having won four of their past five matches.
The Jets sit just a win outside the top five as they prepare to tackle sixth-placed Northern Pride at home on Sunday.
“It’s an important month of footy coming up,” Walker said.
If there was any concern, it was a lapse late in the first half and early in the second, when Norths got most of their points.
That the Jets were able to counter it and finish strongly was some compensation.
“There was a patch in the middle when things weren’t flash,” Walker said.
“It is easy to lose those games when you lose momentum like that. But we were able to rally and score three more tries.”
STATE OF PLAY
Ipswich’s win over Norths has the Jets back on course following last week’s loss to Wynnum-Manly.
A win this weekend against Northern Pride could have the Jets knocking on the door to the Queensland Cup top five.