Ipswich Jets fans walked into North Ipswich Reserve with a strut in their step knowing one of their favourite sons and most prolific try scorers was back where he belonged.
Marmin Barba – who before kick-off today had scored 59 tries in 52 games – was back in the side he last played for in 2016 against Wynnum when he suffered a horrific broken leg.
It didn’t take long for him to add to his total in his side’s 20-18 win over Townsville – crossing for his team’s second try in the 22nd minute.
In for Richard Pandia who was ruled out with a broken thumb, his four-pointer added to a good start his team had enjoyed when Julian Christian rolled a short kick into the in goal for speedster Wes Conlon to open the scoring.
His team had a 4-0 lead; and Pio Seci wanted to add to that tally; but was denied a try when he dummied and went for the line, but could not resist reaching out when he landed short and was penalised for a double movement.
However, in his second game for the Jets, it only took three minutes for Seci to learn from his error and next time the ball came left, he passed it to Barba to score in the corner for a 10-0 lead after 22 minutes.
Just before halftime, the Jets took up the offer of two points following a Blackhawks penalty and in the end it proved decisive – but at the time it gave them a handy 12-0 lead at the break.
The Jets had enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half, while the Blackhawks had used up plenty of their energy on hot day to be defending.
However, they came out with intent in the second, and it was only the committed defence of Michael Purcell that got in the way of Jonathon Reuben getting his team on the board.
However, no one could stop Francis Molo from powering over the line in the 55th minute to put the visitors back in the frame.
Next up, it was Jaelen Feeney who stepped through the Jets in the middle and scored under the posts to get it to 12-12 after 58 minutes.
The Jets took the lead back when they spread the ball left and a short kick was fumbled by Carlin Anderson. Rory Humphreys kicked the ball through before diving on it to claim a try.
At 18-12, the Jets were offered another two points and they again gladly accepted to bring their lead up to 20-12 up nine minutes to play.
Kalifa Faifai-Loa tried to push his team away from defeat when he scored over Conlon and grounded the ball to give the Blackhawks a chance with one minute to play and two points needed for a draw.
However, the Jets were able to hold out the Blackhawks and claim a deserved win having controlled the ball for most of the game.
The match was another worthy contest to further add a growing rivalry. Next week, the Jets will play Easts in their XXXX Rivalry Round match, while it will be a northern derby when the Blackhawks take on the Pride.
IPSWICH JETS 20 (Wes Conlon, Marmin Barba, Rory Humphreys tries; Wes Conlon 4 goals) def TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 18 (Francis Molo, Jaelen Feeney, Kalifa Faifai Loa tries; Carlin Anderson 3 goals) at North Ipswich Reserve.
*Michael Nunn is a QRL correspondent covering the Ipswich Jets