'Good to get redemption' says former Jet
FORMER favourite son Rod Griffin returned to North Ipswich Reserve with redemption on his mind after the Jets sent his Townsville Blackhawks side out of the 2018 Intrust Super Cup finals.
That 32-12 defeat in Townsville last September was not spoken about in the open through the week, but Griffin suggested it was in the back of everyone's minds.
"It was pretty pleasing to get the ball rolling (with a win), and especially after playing Ipswich last year in the finals and not getting the job done then,” Griffin said.
"It was good to get some redemption.”
Utilising the signature offload he honed over three years in the green and white, Griffin played a key part in the Blackhawks' 34-6 rout in yesterday's televised match.
Griffin said it was always a bittersweet feeling to go up against his former side, particularly with so many familiar faces still in the Jets jersey.
"I had a pretty big three years here with them. I'll always have a soft spot for Ipswich,” he said.
"I've still got a heap of friends here - blokes that are mates for life.”
But that friendship is put on hold each time Griffin steps over the white line against the Jets. And yesterday, he had all the bragging rights.
After a scrappy opening stanza where neither side was able to regularly complete sets, it was the Blackhawks who took a 10-point advantage into the sheds courtesy of tries to debutante Thomas Gilbert and Kalifa Faifai Loa.
The Jets were on the cusp of adding points just prior to the buzzer when Chris Ash found Isimeeli Hafoka with a beautiful cut-out pass, but for the second-year Jet to spill the beans with the line in sight.
However former Blackhawk Kierran Moseley made no mistake when he crossed for the hosts' first points of the season after just one minute of second half play.
That seemed to spark the Jets into life, as Ben Shea - brandishing a new platinum blonde haircut - steamrolled a try-bound Blackhawk in an impressive individual defensive display.
But as a team the Jets were caught out moments later, when Shaun Hudson was played through to score between a waning Ipswich defensive line.
Hudson added his second just minutes later after the usually unflappable Michael Purcell fumbled on his own tryline, and the Townsville winger was all too willing to pounce on the loose ball.
The Jets chose to take the two points on offer when Moseley was penalised deep in the opposition half, but that was all the headway the hosts would be able to muster.
Krys Freeman crossed for the Blackhawks' fifth try just minutes later, before Kalifa Faifai Loa completed his double right on the stroke of fulltime.
Griffin said the 28-point road win was "pleasing” given the calibre of opposition.
"It's always tough coming down here and playing Ipswich at home,” Griffin said.
"It's always hard to prepare for the Jets. They play the type of football where you can't really prepare for it. You just have to be competitive and turn up every time, because they'll keep you honest.”
Players from both sides commented on how energy sapping the 30 degree heat was particularly early in the match when errors flowed freely.
"I guess the heat had a bit to do with it (sloppiness), but you can't use that as an excuse,” Griffin said.
"We just had to go back to playing simple footy, and I guess we did that in the last 20 minutes when we were just able to hold onto the ball.”
For the Jets, Nat Neale blamed "small errors” and a "clunky” feel early in the match for the hosts' woes.
Having missed part of pre-season following minor surgery, the skipper admitted the heat left him physically and mentally drained.
"That little op in the off-season meant I didn't get much running in. It was tough, but it was good to get out there and have a run around,” Neale said.
He promised the round one version fans witnessed was "nowhere near our best”.
"We're probably still in second gear I think. We have plenty of growing to do, there's nothing to worry about just yet,” Neale said.
The going does not get any easier for the Jets this weekend. They take on Burleigh at Pizzey Park on Saturday.
Intrust Super Cup
Townsville Blackhawks 34 (S. Hudson 2, K Faifai Loa 2, T. Gilbert, K. Freeman tries; S. Nona 4, K. Faifai Loa goals) def. Ipswich Jets 6 (K. Moseley try; M. Barba goal) at North Ipswich Reserve.