Jets flying first class

Jets flying first class

Finn Daniel

The Ipswich Jets defeated the USC Thunder at Nissan Arena on Sunday night in a match where they overcame a spirited challenge to assert their quality.

From the opening whistle to the closing buzzer the fixture was intense, and the Jets had to play at their best to ensure they recorded their fourth win of the season and kept pace with the Cougars at the top of the ladder.

The opening quarter was a game in itself. Initially it seemed that the Jets were going to establish an early lead, then the Thunder scored 4 straight and edged in front, before fittingly ending in a 12-12 draw. Thunder Shooter Annabelle Lawrie and Jets Keeper Bridey Condren came face to face after both making their Suncorp Super Netball debuts this season, while the teams’ respective captains Ashlee Unie and Stephanie O’Brien tussled in mid-court.

Jets coach Tracey Jeanes-Fraser brought Lucinda Benjamin on to accompany Charlie Bell in the second term, but it was the Thunder attack that excelled early. Lawrie (25/34) appeared more confident following her SSN experience and her now-Lightning teammate Binnian Hunt skilfully exploited spaces vacated by the Jets defence. Moreover, Ali Wishier and the Thunder mid-court effectively repelled the Jets from their goal circle.

However, the Jets overcame this obstacle by sending high balls into Charlie Bell, who, standing half a foot taller than the Thunder defenders, was able to pluck them from the air and hand her team a lead halfway through the match. From this stage onwards, the Jets continually stretched their lead, outscoring the Thunder by 9 goals in each of the last two quarters.

Bell (49/56) was close to unbeatable and Benjamin (15/19) grew in composure throughout the game, as the other half of one of the most potent shooting duos in the league. It wasn’t just the attack that shone though as Condren dominated her defensive third, constantly disrupting well-worked Thunder movements, while O’Brien, Hoch and Woolnough formed the robust backbone of the team.

Chloe Bingham (16/18) replaced Hunt (7/8) later and proved that she belongs at this level with strong play both on and off the ball. Coach Garry Pashen made a number of attacking switches, including placing Hunt at Wing Attack, and these changes improved the fluidity and creativity of the side. However, as is so often the case for the Thunder, mistakes started creeping in as fatigue increased and the deficit expanded to 21 goals.

The final score line reflected harshly on the Thunder, but the all-round quality of the Jets cannot be denied as they march onwards. Next week they come up against their toughest opponents so far, the similarly unbeaten Cougars, while the Thunder play the team at the other end of the ladder, the Bull Sharks.

Ipswich Jets 67 USC Thunder 46

Q1 12-12

Q2 28-25

Q3 48-36

Q4 67-46


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