A NEW era of no-seatbelt rugby league was introduced to a heaving Ipswich crowd on Saturday night as the Ipswich Jets almost pulled off a remarkable victory over the Sydney Roosters.
In front of nearly 4000 fans at North Ipswich Reserve, the Jets showed they were a completely different team from last year’s Queensland Cup wooden spooners, thrilling fans with trick shots and big hits against the Anthony Minichiello-led Roosters.
The final scoreline of 22-12 to the Roosters did not reflect the trend of the match.
The Jets went into the halftime break at 12-all and were only down 16-12 with five minutes remaining.
The match was in the balance as the Jets camped on the Roosters’ line with repeat sets, only for ball handling to cruel them as they spread it wide on the last tackle.
The Jets showed they would benefit from having Ben and Shane Walker, two former NRL halves known for taking on-field risks, as coaches.
Twice during the match, the Jets chipped ahead on their first tackles, despite being camped on their own 10 metre line, and also tried a short kick-off.
None of the surprise moves quite came off but the crowd enjoyed it and Shane Walker said getting the fans on board after the disaster of last year was just as important as the result.
“I thought we were a bit unlucky with those chip kicks. We might have to put them back in the bag for a while,” Walker said.
“The way we coach is to let the guys play what’s in front of them and back them to do it. We have some very talented players here and we encourage them to use their skills. We wanted to come here and put on some exciting football for the fans.
Minichiello said the Jets were impressive.
“They actually played really well I thought. They tested us throughout the game,” he said.
“All of our guys have enjoyed their time in Ipswich and we thank the city for having us.”
Both teams fielded a number of rookies and for the Jets, the standout colt was Fijian/ Indian winger Trevendra Naidu.
The lanky Naidu was solid in defence, showed flashes of fancy footwork and with just three minutes remaining, he pulled down flying Roosters grand final winger Joseph Leilua after he made a clean break with no one in front of him.
“Everyone played well,” Walker said of his own troops.
“I can’t pick people out because there was just so much effort put out there on the field,” he said.
Returning Jets backrower Lorenzo Maafu was excellent, leaving every ounce of sweat he had on the field. He also scored a try and tried to off-load the ball in every tackle.
Veteran Jets five-eighth Todd Riggs placed one hand on the number six spot with a good kicking game and a smooth combination with fullback Marshall Chalk.
Sydney Roosters 22 (Justin Carney, Joseph Leilua, Ethan Lowe, Steve Naughton tries; Joseph Leilua 3 goals) d Ipswich Jets 12 (Sam Martin, Lorenzo Maafu tries; Jacob Ling 2 goals) at North Ipswich Reserve.