CLASSIC EFFORT: Michael Purcell finished off a superb Nemani Valekapa play to score Ipswich's only try in PNG.
CLASSIC EFFORT: Michael Purcell finished off a superb Nemani Valekapa play to score Ipswich's only try in PNG. Rob Williams

Jets out of finals race after gallant PNG loss

RUGBY LEAGUE: They were gallant in Papua New Guinea, but the Ipswich Jets will not be playing finals' football in the Intrust Super Cup in 2017.

The 20-4 loss to the PNG Hunters in Port Moresby, and the Townsville Blackhawks 26-14 win over CQ Capras, has the Jets four points out of the top six with three rounds to play.

Townsville and Ipswich have byes to come, and will pick up two points.

However, the Blackhawks' for and against is too far ahead of the Jets to make up the difference in the other two games, even if all the results went Ipswich's way.

"It is a near impossibility for us now,'' co-coach Shane Walker said of his side's finals hopes.

"It would be comical if I was to say we had a chance.

"The only thing we can do now is go out swinging.

"We've got the bye and then two games to go and we'd like to think we'd go well in both of them.

"Late in the second half Ben (Walker) said it would be a tragedy for us not to make the play-offs, given the way we have been playing.

"We are in great form and everybody is playing well. It is a terrible shame to bow out of the play-offs because that is why you take on each season, to be in the finals.”

The Jets led 4-nil in Port Moresby early after a brilliant try to Michael Purcell. The score remained that way until the stroke of half-time when PNG levelled.

Walker said the Purcell try was a classic.

"It was a beautiful 70 metre effort,” Walker said.

"Nemani Valekapa broke the line and they mowed him down 10 metres short. As he was falling he popped a ball up about knee high and Michael Purcell at full-tilt scored. It was a really rugged and tough game as it always is up there.

"We probably had the wood on them for the opening 25 minutes.”

Although the Hunters did all the scoring in the second stanza, the Jets were in the hunt right up until the final 10 minutes.

They had chances to score but couldn't complete promising moves.

"We got through the line a number of times but as we were going to ground the ball would either be knocked out or come ajar, and that can happen up there given how hot and humid it is,” Walker said.

"They are a very alert and aware footy team and they play at the ball at every opportunity.”

Walker said Hugh Sedger stepped up from BRL and had an outstanding game defending at back-row and attacking on the wing.

Jayden Connors threatened all day while forwards Nathaniel Neale and Sebastian Pandia shone.

Points: PNG 35, Redcliffe 32, Sunshine Coast 31, Easts 31, Souths-Logan 30, Townsville 28, Mackay 24, Ipswich 24, Wynnum- Manly 20, Burleigh 20, Norths 16, Northern Pride 12, Tweed Heads 12, CQ 11.



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