The Northern Jets’ desperate campaign to climb into the top five remains likely to come down to the last round against East Wagga-Kooringal, but they continued to mount their case with a convincing win at Coleambally on Saturday.
The Jets are still sixth on the ladder but the 16.16 (112) to 6.9 (45) victory narrowed the gap on EWK to less than five percentage points.
Before they meet in two weeks, each takes on a top two side with the Hawks facing Temora and the Jets hosting Marrar.
However, the Jets have a concern with Jade Curtis reported twice, for striking Coleambally’s Tom Morton in the second quarter and again late in the third term.
Morton was also reported for instigating a melee in the third-quarter over an incident involving Jet Connor Donoghue. It was from the ensuing drama that Curtis copped his second charge as all three players were shown yellow cards.
The Jets set up their win with a big first quarter but coach Mitch Robinson said it started before the siren.
“I think the boys are really starting to believe in themselves and realise that if we do happen to make it to finals, we could be smokeys to go a fair way,” Robinson said.
“We’ve got the talent there to do it but first of all we’ve just got to get there.
“We can’t afford any hiccups and today there were a few five-minute lapses. But in weeks gone by they were 20-minute lapses and we’ve managed to get that out of our game.”
The Jets opened fire with six goals in the first term and twice they were able to keep the Blues to one-goal quarters.
By three-quarter time, the margin was above 50 points and they went on with it, kicking five goals to two in the fourth.
Youngster Paddy Bray backed up a superb game against North Wagga with a best-on-ground performance, including four goals.
“He was really good, I think he’s just starting to believe in himself and he’s taking the game on, he’s running hard,” Robinson said. “He’s also getting the ball in to our other forwards nice and quick.
“And Jade Curtis was also really good again today... we’ve had a lot of development in those sorts of guys this year.”
As well as the promising youngsters, an old timer in the shape of Andrew Bonny was back for his second game of the season.
The big man took a break for the first half of the year and then his return was interrupted by a bout of pneumonia but his comeback before finals could be ideal.
“He was keen to play and you can’t beat his experience and his leadership,” Robinson said.
“Also with us being such a small side and not really having a back-up ruckman…
“We played him down forward and he was good, he got a bit of the ball.”
Graham O’Connell remains a model of consistency for Coleambally along with Chris Cerato while youngster Harrison Tooth also had a big game.
Morton kicked two of the Blues’ six goals.