Can't stop Nat
NEW Ipswich Jets captain Nat Neale promised his leadership would best be displayed on the field, where it mattered most.
On Saturday afternoon against the Blackhawks, he did exactly that.
The prop was involved in just about everything in the Jets' 20-18 win at North Ipswich Reserve, leading the team with 32 tackles in a man-of-the-match performance.
"Really happy (with the win),” Neale said post-match.
"We just built on last week's performance. We were a bit rusty (against PNG in round one), we didn't have too many trials. I think this shows we will just get better and better from now on.”
The Jets and Blackhawks are two sides known for their attacking prowess.
But on a day when both sides honoured their Australian Defence Force roots, it was defence that proved the difference in the first half.
The Jets led 12-0 at the break, and it took until the 55th minute before the visitors put points on the board.
"I just put it down to a tough pre-season,” Neale said of the Jets' defensive nous.
"Our fitness was there, and we were all just scrambling for each other.”
Two tries in as many minutes brought the Blackhawks level on 60 minutes.
But Neale was not too concerned.
"I just told the boys to calm down and focus on playing our game,” he said.
"If we did that, I knew we could walk all over them.”
"Playing our game” meant targeting former Jet Carlin Anderson, who was forced under the high ball by Dane Phillips regularly throughout the 80 minutes.
"We love giving it back to our old Jets boys,” Neale said.
"We knew he didn't like bombs, so we just wanted to put him under a lot of pressure.”
The three-time Allan Langer Medallist praised the efforts of two former Blackhawks, five-eighth Julian Christian and hooker Kierran Moseley for their influence on the contest.
"I thought Julian did really well through the middle, and Kierran led the boys around really well from hooker,” Neale said.
"We are happy (with the performance), but we know there is always room for improvement.”