Ipswich Jets claimed a second straight State Championship for Intrust Super Cup teams as they defeated a resilient Newcastle Knights team 26-12 on Sunday afternoon.
Much talk before the game was of the Ipswich Jets cavalier style and they certainly didn’t disappoint, but they had to tough it out to claim the State Championship as their win was owed as much to their defending their line against Newcastle in the second half as much as their attacking brilliance. If not more so.
The early part of the game was all about the Queensland champions as an early penalty gave Ipswich all the advantage they needed, and they scored within two minutes through hooker Matt Parcell as he scooted twenty metres from dummy half to score. The early signs were ominous as the Jets looked in the mood for points, however Newcastle should have had some points of their own in the eighth minute but the Newcastle winger Ken Tofilau dropped the all over the line.
The Knights were made to pay for that miss a few minutes later as the Jets’ Grand Final hero Billy McConnachie ran a great straight line after the usual amount of side to side and extended the Jets lead to 12-0 after the successful conversion. Newcastle started to get themselves into the game at this point, and had quite a bit of success with bombs aimed at Ipswich fullback Carlin Anderson who got a torrid workout from the Knights. One of these errors lead to a drop out by the Jets, and the one of the first displays of their different way of league as the drop out was kicked low and hard at the sideline, and the Knights player was helpless to stop it.
Not long after Ipswich extended their lead courtesy of a penalty, and with just under a quarter of the final played lead 14-0. That lead lasted until the 27th minute when the Knights scored their first try of the afternoon after taking advantage of a spilled grubber kick by the Ipswich fullback. It was a try similar to the Jets first as the hooker George Ndaira crashed over from dummy half. Truth be told Ndaira’s introduction has started the Knight’s turnaround and the try was well deserved. The conversion made it 14-6.
The Knights were given silver service ten minutes later as the Jets failed to catch the bomb, and had the ball 20 metres out with a big chance to reduce the gap to two points. It wasn’t to be as they dropped the ball, and the Ipswich speedster Marmin Barba was on hand to punish them in full with a 80 metre run to score under the posts for his 31st try of the year. The conversion gave the Queenslanders a 20-6 half time lead.
The second half started much better for Newcastle, as just like the Jets in the first half, they scored within two minutes through Jaelen Feeney after more good lead up work from George Ndaira. The conversion made it 20-12 and the VB NSW Cup Champions were on their way back.
The next part of the game was all Newcastle as they forced mistakes and repeat sets from the Jets. It unfortunately didn’t lead to more points as they came close time after time to scoring a third try and really opening up the game. That third try should have come in the 51st minute but somehow Knights winger Honeti Tuha was held up by some desperate and fantastic Ipswich defence. A certain try was also bombed in the 65th minute as the last pass was called forward with the line waiting for Newcastle.
Not long before that a scuffle broke out between the team, with at least one Ipswich player looking at some kind of suspension for their part in the melee. The incident cost the Knights their fullback as Jake Mamo who was taken off the field injured. This was double bad news as George Ndaira was taken off not long before. The two had been their best until that point.
In the end, what usually happens when one side has all the ball and territory and doesn’t score is that the team defending finally break the shackles and go down the other end and score not long after. In the 69th minute the Jets did just that as they had soaked up the Newcastle pressure applied for most of the second half and scored through veteran work horse Rod Griffin who got a just reward for hard toils throughout the season. The conversion made it 26-12 and with around 10 minutes to go the NSW Cup champions tried without success to get some more points.
The last part of the game lacked a little intensity as the Knights seemed accepting of their fate and despite Newcastle’s very best efforts the Ipswich Jets defended strongly to claim their first State Championship.
The win ends a successful year for the Jets, and they showed their style can equal success and after the NRL Grand Final, maybe rugby league has a new dawn of attack rather than wrestle and one-out big boppers. One can only imagine where the Walker brothers could coach in the NRL if a club had the foresight. The short drop out during the second half despite being hammered on their line for set after set showed the dedication to the cause even in the biggest game of the year. It failed for the record going just five metres.
The Knights should be proud of their finals run which saw them beat 1st, 2nd and 3rd on their four straight finals game streak in the NSW Cup and were unlucky not to score more points given their second half dominance.
The Jets ultimately deserved the State title, and they did it in their style. A style some will come to love over the next few easons.
IPSWICH JETS 26 (Marmin Barba, Matt Parcell, Rod Griffin, Billy McConnachie tries; Carlin Anderson 5 goals) def NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 12 (Jaelen Feeney, George Ndaira tries; George Ndaira 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium, Sydney (Halftime: Ipswich 20-6).
Man of the Match: Matt Parcell (Ipswich Jets)
Ipswich Jets: 1. Carlin Anderson 2. Marmin Barba 3. Liam Capewell 4. Nemani Valekapa 5. Richard Pandia 6. Josh Cleeland 7. Dane Phillips 15. Kurtis Lingwoodock 9. Matt Parcell 10. Rod Griffin 11. Sam Martin 16. Billy McConnachie 13. Keiron Lander (c) Interchange: 8. Josh Seage 14. Landon Hayes 17. Chris Walker 22. Fakahoko Teutau
Newcastle Knights: 1. Jake Mamo 2. Honeti Tuha 3. Kerrod Holland 4. Joseph Tapine 5. Ken Tofilau 6. Carlos Tuimavave 7. Jaelen Feeney 8. Damian Sironen 9. Danny Levi 10. Sam Mataora 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Jacob Saifiti 13. Clint Newton (c) Interchange: 14. George Ndaira 15. Marvin Filipo 16. Michael Steele 27. Tama Koopu