Ipswich Jets crown stellar season with NRL state title
THE Ipswich Jets will be given the keys to the city on Thursday night.
Give them the keys to the universe as well, because they are the masters of the rugby league universe right now.
The Jets completed a clean sweep for 2015 after they wiped the floor with the Newcastle Knights 26-12 in the NRL State Championship grand final at ANZ Stadium.
It was fitting that retiring captain Keiron Lander and Manly-bound hooker and man of the match Matt Parcell had such magnificent games in their final appearance for the club.
Lander, who led his side superbly, produced the tackle of the season on the stroke of half-time to break the game open.
Parcell was brilliant in the crucial opening stages, giving the Jets a handy lead.
The Jets were on song from the opening kick-off and within minutes it was Parcell who saw a hole, pinned the ears back and scored.
Carlin Anderson landed the extras and Ipswich had a dream start.
The Knights looked certain to score minutes later through winger Joseph Tapine but desperation from the Fijian Ferrari Nemani Valekapa saw the ball pop loose.
It wasn't long before the game had a dose of madness in more ways than one.
Billy "Madness McConnachie'', who will represent Scotland next week, hit a Parcell pass and motored like a runaway yowie to score next to the posts and the Jets led 12-0.
Anderson then landed a penalty, but he had some early difficulties with his hands which gave the Knights field position for hooker George Ndaira to score next to the posts.
A magnificent crunching tackle by Lander on big Knights forward Marvin Filipo broke the game open just before half-time.
The ball spilled loose and marvellous Marmin Barba raced 90m to give the Jets a 20-6 half-time lead.
The Knights hit back through half Jaelen Feeney straight after the break and it was game on.
Brilliant last ditch try-saving tackles by Richard Pandia and Parcell in the second half saw the Knights held up over the line with the majority of play down the Jets end.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, tough prop Rod Griffin weaved, danced and bulldozed his way over and the Jets were home.
Chris Walker then came on for the final minutes as a fitting reward for his massive contribution in 2015.
Jets co-coach Shane Walker was in awe of the courage shown by his side.
"I am so proud of our players and so humbled by how tough they all are," Walker said.
"We had no ball at all. We were on our line defending.
"In comparison to us, they were huge.
"There were times where we looked out and thought we were coaching the under 12s because they were so big, and we were so small.
"But there is no quit in the Ipswich Jets.
"Now Billy McConnachie is off to play for Scotland and if PNG had a game next week the first two blokes picked would be Rod Griffin and Richard Pandia."
If there was ever a more convincing argument that a Western Corridor NRL bid is a must for Ipswich it was the 2015 Jets performance.
The Jets completed the year BRL champions, Intrust Super Cup premiers and capped it off to win the NRL State Championship.
It doesn't get any better than that.
STATE OF PLAY
NRL State Championship grand final:
- Ipswich Jets 26 (Marmin Barba, Matt Parcell, Rod Griffin, Billy McConnachie tries; Carlin Anderson 5 goals) def Newcastle Knights 12 (Jaelen Feeney, George Ndaira tries; George Ndaira 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium, Sydney. Halftime: Ipswich 20-6.
- Man of the match: Matt Parcell (Ipswich Jets).