Northern exposure looming after Ipswich Jets roll on
A CLUB record seventh straight win has set up a top-of-the-table Queensland Cup clash for the Ipswich Jets this weekend.
But it was no sure thing until the final siren as Ipswich held out Sunshine Coast 24-18 at the North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday.
When the Sea Eagles toed the ball into the Jets' in-goal and dived for it with three minutes left, there were hearts in mouths.
The ball was knocked on and the Jets extended their winning run ahead of their meeting with the Northern Pride in Cairns on Sunday.
"They really came to play," Jets co-coach Shane Walker said of the last-placed Sea Eagles.
"We were not surprised at all.
"Every team that turns up against us turns up to play."
Sunshine Coast took the lead in the fifth minute from what Walker said was "definitely a double movement".
But the Jets were unfazed by going behind on the scoreboard and hit back with a try to returned Jets winger Jarrod McInally in the left corner.
McInally replaced Troy O'Sullivan, who tore a quadricep last weekend.
Sunshine Coast again took the lead following a bomb and went into half-time 12-6 ahead.
"At half-time we spoke to Lace (vice-captain Ian Lacey) and Keiron (captain Keiron Lander) about playing more direct," Walker said. "Going through the middle.
"When we were shifting it wide, they were over-compensating with more defenders out wide.
"So the plan was to feint wide and go though the middle."
The Jets' first try after the break came from putting the advice into practice. "Rod Griffin had his best game for us," Walker said. "He went straight through the middle and popped it to Javarn (White)."
That drew Ipswich level and the home team went ahead soon after following a typical piece of cheeky halfback play by Ian Lacey.
"It was classic Ian Lacey," Walker said.
"We got a tap 1m off their line.
"Lace had about six guys in front of him. He pointed to their toes and said to the ref 'make sure they're behind the line'.
"He paused for about 10 seconds then the moment one of them looked down at their feet he tapped it and burrowed over."
When McInally notched his second try for a 10-point lead, it looked like the Jets had earned their win. But the visitors kept them honest, scoring once more and pushing Ipswich close in the final minutes.
McInally was one of three changes for the game, with Luke Pollock in for Donald Malone at centre and Liam Capewell starting in place of the suspended Sam Martin.
Walker paid tribute to the new faces.
"Luke Pollock on debut set up a nice try," he said. "That's a real key for us.
"You've got your mainstays every week, but every time we bring someone in, they do a really good job."
Extending the winning streak to eight will be a big ask but the Jets have shown enough to suggest this year is their best shot at a title since losing the 2008 grand final.
"I think it's just a bit more experience," Walker said of the current winning streak.
"It's the value of keeping the same squad.
"When you keep turning blokes over, you don't get the opportunity to learn. And sometimes you've got to make mistakes to learn."