Ipswich and Redcliffe faced off in contrasting roles from previous years, with the Dolphins sitting on top of the table and thinking about finals for the first time since 2012, while the Jets were hoping to scratch and crawl their way into the September action.
The Jets made a whole host of changes before the game with captain Dane Phillips and fullback Carlin Anderson both out.
This meant a major reshuffle, with Michael Purcell moving to fullback, Haydan Lipp into the halves, Pete Whittaker to the bench, Mikaere Beattie returning as hooker and the Jets debut of Ono So’Oialo.
The Dolphins came prepared for a desperate Jets with coach Adam Mogg saying before the game that he expected the Jets to “roll the dice” for this game as it was a must-win.
“We are more worried about what we have to do. We are on top at the moment but only takes a few losses and you’re back down the table,” Mogg said.
Redcliffe started with the ball and kept it for the majority of the first quarter of the game; but the Jets’ defence was holding strong.
Ipswich in fact were first to score when try-scoring machine Purcell went over for try number 13 for the year with a deft little kick and regather next to the posts.
They then settled into the task by taking the two points on offer and had an eight-point lead.
The Dolphin’s big units then got rumbling and Charlie Faingaa strolled over after being hit with a perfect pass and he was too big and too strong to stop.
Danny Bridge was the next Dolphin to score and took the lead for the Dolphins 12-8.
The Jets’ winger So’Oialo scored on debut and did a smart job of making the two points easier by running around under the posts to give the Jets back their lead of 14-12 in a see-sawing half.
Redcliffe again exploited some confusion on the Jets’ line and barged over the tryline to take the front again right on half time.
At the break, Mogg addressed his team’s line speed and first contact in defence while Jets co-coaches Ben and Shane Walker down the hall spoke about waiting for the chance to come.
When play resumed, Redcliffe’s speed man Dan Randall bounced on the dropped ball and raced away to score and give the Dolphins the second half start they were after.
However, in an entertaining game, a chance came for Ono when Jets centre Nemani Valekapa produced a beautiful pass on the end of a blind side raid. The Jets went over to see scores narrow to 26-18.
Dolphins’ wrecking ball Tyson Cleal however put his side further in front when he scored with 20 minutes. The bench weapon was too much for the Jets to handle and he went over for his second try in as many weeks.
After setting one up earlier, Valekapa scored his 37th Intrust Super Cup try after a long break and some scrappy work in between. However, that was the last of the scoring plays and the Phins held on for another important win.
The Jets will host Tweed Heads in next week, while the Dolphins will travel to take on the Capras.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 34 (Charlie Faingaa, Daniel Bridge, Christopher Gesch, Daniel Randall, Tyson Cleal tries; Darren Nicholls 7 goals) def IPSWICH JETS 24 (Ono So’Oialo 2, Michael Purcell, Nemani Valekapa tries; Haydan Lipp 4 goals) at North Ipswich Reserve.