Tigers overcome tenacious Jets to record special win

By Michael Nunn (QRL correspondent)

You could say the Round 17 Ipswich Jets v Brisbane Tigers the milestone game, with players and staff from both clubs reaching special games.

Tigers coach Jon Buchanan was coaching game 200, while his forward Jack Svendsen was suiting up for game 150. For the Ipswich Jets, Blake Lenehan was playing game 50.

All three and their teams were keen to mark the day with a win.

The Tigers have made a second home at the North Ipswich Reserve, having not lost a game here since the 2015 finals series and they were looking to extend that to six wins in a row.

Ipswich however were looking for their second win of the year at home and their fourth win of the season.

The kicking game of Jayden Nikorima entered the game seven minutes in when he hit the mark with a cross-field bomb that Zak Taibi read perfectly; jumping to pull it down and give the Tigers a perfect start and his first try in the Hostplus Cup.

BJ Aufaga-Toomaga added the two points and the Tigers were smiling at 6-0.

On the back of a dangerous tackle penalty, the Tigers went down field and this time, Nikorima didn’t need his feet for kicking, just for stepping around some Jets to score under the posts.

Aufaga-Toomaga again knocked it over and the Tigers were up 12-0 after 20 minutes.

The Jets were searching for a way through and found what they were looking for and six points.

The Jets had momentum down the left-hand side and Keenan Yorston took the Jets into attacking territory.

From the quick play the ball, the Jets were able to take advantage of a disorganised defence and Jets half Lachlan Cooper grabbed his sixth try in game 31 in the Hostplus Cup with a great step back inside that caught the Tigers out.

It was Yorston having an impact scoring his first try in five games for the Jets; when Ipswich were able to string some passes together and Yorston found space on the outside and dived over with eight minutes left in the first half the Jets had fought back from 12-0 to lock it up 12-12.

The Jets had worked so hard to get back before halftime, but they let it slip when they allowed the Tigers to go 80 metres and score just before the break.

Tigers hooker Haele Finau took advantage of some sleepy work from Ipswich markers and advanced the Tigers’ cause down-field and some clever work from Tigers’ fullback Tony Pellow saw him go to dummy half and give Dan Russell a straight run to the try line and hand the Tigers their third try.

At halftime the Jets would have been happy with the 15 minutes in the middle of the half where they strung together passes and pressed forward into good ball areas, while the Tigers would be looking to focus on the first 20 minutes and last five minutes of the half.

The Tigers had a better return on investment for their possession and line breaks with three tries from five line breaks and the Jets would need to find a way to get points when they were on offer.

Tigers captain Darren Nicholls made a run at the Jets that meant Cooper had to come in and make the tackle.

Cooper was stuck at marker and the Jets couldn’t regroup and Jonah Pezet was smart enough to take advantage of the short-side and on the end was a kick-and-pick-up from Solomona Faataape and gave the Tigers the same start to the second half they had in the first half.

Milestone men Jon Buchanan and Blake Lenehan. Photos: Colleen Edwards / QRL
Milestone men Jon Buchanan and Blake Lenehan. Photos: Colleen Edwards / QRL

The Jets lucky charm off the bench Lucky Pokipoki scored his second try in just six games of Hostplus Cup after following a short kick that couldn’t be fielded by the Tigers. Pokipoki was there on the spot to claim the try and get Ipswich back in the contest at 22-18.

It was Pezet and that short side again however that extended the lead for the Tigers, with Pezet finding Nikorima who got a pass away to Faataape to score his second try.

It was the Finau and Pellow run-and-dummy half show on repeat when Finau made the break and Pellow went to dummy half and passed to Nicholls who had his second try under the posts to secure his side’s sixth win in a row at Ipswich.

Tigers forward Darius Farmer was happy with the first 20 minutes and wanted to see more of that.

“I thought our first 20 was what we have to take forward to the Falcons game and that is something we have worked hard on,” Farmer said.

“We haven’t started well lately, but this week we had a really good start.

“We kept waiting for Ipswich to go away but they didn’t and a game where we go back and forth can be frustrating but that’s football too.”

Next weekend, both the Tigers and Jets will have the weekend off as the rest of the competition completes Round 17.

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