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Classic Jets hold Falcons to entertaining draw

The ninth placed Ipswich Jets arrived at Sunshine Coast Stadium for the Round 23 match with nothing to lose and were aiming to cause an upset over the minor premiers the Sunshine Coast and see their that coaches – Ben Walker and Shane Walker – went out with a bang.

In front of one of the largest home crowds of the season, both teams started the game well with the Jets looking especially strong in defence of their line.

Playing without Harry Grant, Todd Murphy and Nicho Hynes – the lack of experience had an immediate impact on the Falcons with the home side making uncharacteristic errors and missing easy opportunities during the first 40 minutes.

The visitors made their game plan clear early with the Jets consistently rushing out of the line to target Cooper Johns and Caleb Daunt whenever they were in possession, effectively denying the halves the time to weigh up their options.  

And it was Ipswich who were on the scoreboard first, with Michael Purcell slotting a penalty kick after a late shot on the Jets kicker in the 20th minute.

It was similar scenes just six minutes later as the visitors again elected to take the two points following a penalty in the 26th minute, with Purcell making no mistake to take the team to 4-0.

Following a Jets’ error early in their next set, the Falcons took the ball in great attacking position and received two penalties in quick succession, giving the home side a chance to repeatedly test the Jets line.

It was halfback Daunt who finally cracked the Jets defence sending a cut-out pass to captain Dane Hogan who ran through the gap to score the first try of the game.

Johns was successful with the conversion, putting the Falcons in front 6-4 after 31 minutes.

Towards the end of the first half, a confident Jets took advantage of some tired Falcons forwards by throwing the ball around in their typical off the cuff style.

Unable to shut down the offloads, the home side could only watch on as a fast finishing Jacob Teevan snatched up a Julian Christian grubber to score. Purcell added the extras and the Jets were back in front 10-6 after 34 minutes.

Both teams had chances to gain the ascendency in the final minutes of the first half, but neither seized their opportunity and the sides went to the break with the Jets holding on to their lead.

Ipswich started the second half with a bang, when Purcell scooped up an ineffective Falcons kick to run the length of the field and score under the posts in the opening minutes. He then converted his own try to extend the lead to 16-6.

There were several penalties in quick succession as both teams were playing ill-disciplined football.

Momentum swung in the visitor’s favour however, as the Falcon’s Daunt was denied a try after an obstruction call following the Jets opening try of the second half.

Just minutes later the Jets failed to put the ball out from a penalty; the home side capitalised on the opportunity, making them pay for the error after Sandor Earl chased down a Daunt kick to score. Johns missed the conversion and they trailed 16-10.

Offloads and broken play continued to frustrate the Falcons as the Jets scored back-to-back tries through Christian and Jayden Connors to extend their lead to imposing 28-10 with 20 minutes left to play.

After the onslaught from the visitors, the Falcons had to be the next to score. The home side managed to hit back through big Lachlan Roe, who forced his way over the line in the 63rd minute. Johns was successful with the conversion narrowing the gap to 28-16.

Not content with just one try, Roe found himself over the line again in the 67th minute, and Johns again was successful with the conversion.

 The Falcons had fought their way back to within a converted try of their opposition at 28-22.

Following a solid set of six where the Falcons forwards carried their side downfield, it was fullback, and Hynes replacement, Nathan Saumalu delivered a sharp short ball to centre Curtis Scott who dove over the line in the 75th minute to bring the Falcons within two points.

Johns was able to level up the scores at 28-28, nailing a pressure kick from the sideline within three minutes of full time.

Despite showing clear signs of fatigue in the tense final stages of the match, both teams scrambled well in defence and the game ended in a deadlock.

Before the match, the Sunshine Coast were presented with the the John Cracker McDonald shield for finishing the season as the minor premiers.