Jets soar into Intrust Super Cup final
The Ipswich Jets have soared into the Intrust Super Cup grand final after overcoming a spirited PNG Hunters side 28-12 in a highly entertaining preliminary final at Wynnum's Kougari Oval.
In a game played at a breathtaking pace for the entire 80 minutes, the Jets overcame an early PNG try to open up a 22-8 half-time lead before producing some desperate late defence to book a place in next Sunday's Suncorp Stadium decider against the Townsville Blackhawks.
The Hunters had their chances during the second stanza, but couldn't put themselves into a position to mount a comeback due to a 64-percent completion rate compounded by 10 errors.
Despite winning the penalty count 12-4 and dominating field position during the dying stages, PNG's lack of fluency inside the opposition 20 allowing the Jets to cruise into their first decider under coaches Ben and Shane Walker.
Having averaged 30 points during the regular season on the back of their free-flowing and improvised style of play, it was the defensive performance by the entire Ipswich side that impressed Man of the Match Rod Griffin the most.
"We knew our attacking ability was there we just needed to brush up on our defence," the Ipswich prop told Channel Nine.
"Even though I got Man of the Match all of the boys play out of their skin across the park and I think we deserved it even though the PNG boys stuck in there with near us."
The 16-point victory sees the Jets qualify for only their third Queensland Cup grand final since the competition begun in 1996.
Ipswich has never won a decider but based on their recent form – including elimination final wins against 2014 premiers Northern Pride, Easts Tigers and the Hunters – minor premiers Townsville won't have it all their way next Sunday afternoon.
The Hunters opened the scoring at Kougari Oval after 10 minutes when hooker Wartovo Puara, who was lively throughout the match, made a probing run from dummy-half to send fullback Stargroth Amean over the line for his 16th try of the season and a 6-0 PNG lead.
Ipswich fullback Carlin Anderson had a try disallowed in the 15th minute due to a contentious double movement decision but it didn’t take long for the entertaining Jets to get on the scoreboard.
On 20 minutes Jets halfback Dane Phillips collected his own grubber kick from close to the line to level the score at 6-6.
Noel Zeming's penalty gave the Hunters a two-point lead before the Jets regathered their second short kick-off of the half which eventually led to Matt Parcell's 30th-minute try.
Four minutes later Ipswich ran the ball on the last allowing Phillips to send Marmin Barba over in the corner for his 29th try of the season and a 16-8 lead.
Barba's error shortly after the restart sent PNG on the attack close to the Jets' line only for Anderson to pluck an intercept out of thin air in front of his own goal posts and streak away for a 98-metre try.
Anderson's conversion brought an end to the first half with the Jets up by 14 points.
The Jets created another opportunity midway through the second half through Parcell which led to a try to five-eighth Josh Cleeland and a 28-8 advantage.
Mistakes continued to haunt the Hunters as they searched for an elusive second-half try and they were eventually rewarded when Willie Minoga crossed out wide on the stroke of full-time.
Ipswich Jets 28 (Matt Parcell, Dane Phillips, Marmin Barba, Carlin Anderson, Josh Cleeland tries; Carlin Anderson 4 goals) def. PNG Hunters 12 (Stargroth Amean, Willie Minoga tries; Noel Zeming 2 goals) at BMD Kougari Oval, Wynnum. Half-time: Ipswich Jets 22-8. Man of the Match: Rod Griffin (Ipswich Jets).