Swifts in title hunt
SWIFTS’ clash with Norths at North Ipswich Reserve yesterday was seen as the showdown to decide Brothers’ number one challenger for the IRL A grade title.
Events at Brother Seery Park may have changed that, but it was Swifts who emerged decisive winners at headquarters, downing Norths 38-14.
For 60 minutes there was little separating the two teams.
At times it looked like Norths’ backline combination of Steven West, Cody Fullarton and Jarrod Biggs might provide on edge, at others is seemed Swifts superior second phase game might draw an advantage.
However both sides dropped too much ball and gave away too many penalties to take the game by the throat as led Swifts 16-14 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
It was then the premiers found an extra gear, flashing over for four late tries as Norths’ defence went AWOL.
The second last one leads the try of the year contenders.
Bluebirds prop Saia Taufatfele charged the ball back from the kick-off and twice linked with centre David Heketoa as they went the length of the field to score.
While the two experienced campaigners and fellow veteran Talipeau stood out for Swifts, captain Robbie Hill said it was the contribution of youngsters like hooker Jaydn Callan and John Taupa that got the Bluebirds home.
“All the young boys came into their own for a change,” Hill said.
“They really stood up.”
Swifts have experimented all season with their play making combinations but may have found the answer with Callan at hooker and Talipeau in the halves, while Heketoa had his best game of the season at centre.
“Jaydn had his chance,” Hill said.
“He’s been injured for a while.
“(Heketoa’s) been wanting to play centre for a while.
“I don’t know if Alby wants to play nine or seven, but he’s stepping up and taking the pressure off the boys.
“His vocals on the field really lift the boys.”
Injured Norths captain Dale Robertson hopes to be back in a fortnight and the Tigers need his attitude in defence.
“They’re a good side with some big boys and once they get a roll on are hard to stop,” he said of Swifts.
“Maybe our boys got a little tired at the end.
“We missed one or two tackles and they make 60m efforts.
“Our defence was good in the first half, up till 20 minutes to go.”
Even then, more needs to be done to shut down the opposition.
“Not coming in and wrapping up the ball (was the problem),” he said.
“They can pop it from anywhere. It comes down to the individual not putting in that last effort to complete it.”
While Norths final 20 minutes was a concern, they also need to address how they started the game.
“Every team tries to complete its first five sets and we dropped the ball on the first and second set,” Robertson said.
Swifts led 22-14 with 10 minutes remaining when Saia Tafatfele took a kick-off on his own tryline. Charging like a rhinoceros he skittled defenders and linked with David Heketoa, exchanging passes twice in a 100m try that ended Norths hopes.