Northern Pride top guns after pummelling Ipswich visitors
THE Ipswich Jets' record winning streak has ended at seven games.
The high-flying Jets met their match at Cairns yesterday, going down to Queensland Cup ladder leaders Northern Pride 44-12.
The Pride sit two points clear of the second-placed Jets, confirming their title favouritism and showing the Jets where they must improve to be a title threat.
"We've probably started slowly the last couple of weeks," Jets captain and five-eighth Keiron Lander said.
"Yesterday was no different.
"We were slow out of the blocks and the Pride made us pay for it.
"We dropped the ball in the first set (of tackles). And we didn't get to our kick in probably the first couple of sets. That really hurt us. We've been up for seven weeks and played some pretty tough footy."
Against lesser teams, Ipswich's grim determination has enabled them to win games ugly if required. But the Pride are top for a reason and took advantage of the Jets' shortcomings.
But there was no sign before the game that something was amiss.
"Our preparation and warm-up was good," Lander said.
"You've got to give credit to the Pride. They're a tough side and by the sounds of it, they're enjoying their footy."
While losing to the Pride was no embarrassment, Lander was disappointed by his team's inaccuracy.
"Errors really hurt us and our defending," he said.
"We gave them a couple of opportunities. We were probably off a little bit in our defence, which we pride ourselves on. But I'd rather be beaten by them by that score now than coming into finals."
The Jets were not without a number of players who produced their usual high standards.
Amongst them was last year's Jets player-of-the-year, forward Nat Neale.
"If he doesn't get picked up by an NRL club, I'd be surprised," Lander said.
"He's one of the toughest, most competitive blokes I've played with. And Tyson (prop Tyson Lofipo) proves every week he's hard to handle."
Another positive was Jets centre Donald Malone crossing for a second half try to equal Ricky Bird's all-time Jets record of 64.
The Jets trailed 26-2 at half-time yet did not think they were out of the match.
But the Pride had enough quality to hold the visitors out.
"The bounce of the ball went against us," Lander said.
"We made some half breaks but the last pass went astray.
"They're one of the toughest sides we've played, definitely. The competition is so close and it shows."