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Jets post back-to-back wins after downing Hunters

The Ipswich Jets proved too strong for the PNG Hunters in the opening game of Round 13's BMD Indigenous Round, and in the process, recorded their biggest victory since 2018 and their first back-to-back wins since 2019.

Skipper Nat Neale now has the 11th most tries for the Jets and his 150th point after running in to score in the 31st minute.

It was a heartening team display for their home fans. 

The PNG Hunters came to Ipswich for the first time since 2018, and were welcoming back captain lla Alu who hadn’t played since the trial games with a fractured collar bone.

The Hunters also had five players from the Test win over Fiji last weekend with Solo Wane, Wartovo Puara, Sylvester Namo, Emmanual Waine and Dilbert Issac backing up and playing his 50th Hostplus Cup game for the Hunters.

The Jets were looking for two wins in a row for the first time since Round 17 and Round 18 in 2019.

The home side started in a positive manner with a completed set that went the length of the field. The Jets showed their intent shifting to edges quickly and moving the Hunters around.

On the back of that, the next chance the Jets got with the ball meant they were able to be in attacking formation quickly and it went left and Denzel Burns had the Hunters’ defence convinced the ball would die with him, but he was able to pop it up for Ricco Falaniko to score just inside the corner post and give the Jets a 4-0 start.

Neale was running hard and producing offloads, causing some hesitation in defence.

Burns again capitalised on some hesitating Hunters and got through the line to score his side's second try and his fifth in 10 games this season.

Hunters fullback Judah Rimbu tested the Jets with a short kick, but his hands failed him and the ball came loose over the line, costing the Hunters their first try scoring chance.

It was a kick in the same corner that brought a Jets error and a mid-field scrum that brought a result on the opposite side of the field.

Rimbu came into the Hunters’ backline and created space for Solo Wane to do it all himself, going in over the top of the Jets to score his 14th Hostplus Cup try in game 20.

The Jets goal-line defence had been tested twice and made two errors.

It wasn’t long before two errors became three, the Hunters tested the Jets again with a short kick behind the line on the left. After a run that dented the Jets line from Sylvester Namo, the Hunters went to the line with a kick from Rimbu and Brandon Nimo had the Hunters third try.

The Jets 10-0 lead had evaporated in 13 minutes and Ipswich were now behind by two points.

However, to get back in front, Neale didn’t need little kicks for a try, he did it the old school way.

The prop is stalking the club's top 10 try scorers and entered the round equal with Brandon Lindsay on 37 tries in 11th spot.

When Jets replacement hooker Josh Williams saw Neale lining up for a run, he backed his captain to crash over and score number 38 and bring up his 150th point for the Jets.

The Hunters couldn’t stop him and Neale’s try gave the Jets back the lead 16-12.

At halftime, both teams had done some good things with the ball, but their inability to get off their line and stop ball movement was proving costly.

It took seven minutes for two decisions on the goal line to bring points. From the Jets perspective, it was all attack with Lachlan Cooper shaping to hit Ngangarra Barker out the back, but instead hitting Lucky Pokipoki and putting the big interchange forward over for his first try in game number two for the Jets.

The short kick again brought results when Cooper kicked ahead to regather the ball and come right to find Neale to Pokipoki to Dominic Macumboy to score in the corner and give the Jets a 14-point lead.

The Jets next scored after feeding a scrum 80 metres out and Burns slightly juggled the ball before streaking away between some Hunters defence and running the field to score under the posts.

Ipswich’s lead was now by 20 with 20 minutes to play.

The Hunters defence on the back foot and next it was Jets winger Falaniko who casually cut across the line and 70 metres to score his second try.

The Hunters got four points back when they shifted to the right and exposed some passive Jets goal-line defence and Roderick Tai scored in the right-hand corner.

The Jets had started well, slightly wobbled, but then recovered to record their biggest win since the 2018 when they beat Townsville Blackhawks

Jets captain Neale was happy with the win in hard conditions.

“We stuck to the plan and even when the Hunters came back a bit in the first half, we found a way to keep going back to what was working,” Neale said.

“The last two weeks have been great for us suffering a setback, but not dropping our bundle.

“We will keep moving forward to the Bears next week.”

Hunters 50 game milestone man and PNG Test player Issac said it was a tough day out in Ipswich.

“We came back but we just couldn’t roll on after that when we led by two points,” Issac said.

“It was hard work to come back from 10-0 and then we let it slip again.

“We missed too many tackles and that just keeps putting you under pressure."

Next week, the Hunters will play Wynnum Manly Seagulls.

 

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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