Second half blitz seals win for Western Jets

Hamish Murphy. Pic Marco De Luca

By Lance Jenkinson

Western Jets have survived a tough examination in the TAC Cup wildcard round to advance to week two of the finals on the back of a 38-point win over Eastern Ranges on Sunday.

The Jets were slow out of the blocks, trailing by 10 points at quarter-time and 16 at half-time.

There were concerns for the Jets, but coach Torin Baker was not reaching for the panic button because his side had shown signs of life in the second term.

“Our boys certainly got a bit of a shock with the way Eastern started,” Baker said. “They played the game on their terms in the first quarter, won a lot of footy around the stoppage and controlled the ball.

“We started to make waves in the second quarter, which was comforting, so I don’t think there was too much panic.”

Any fears of an upset were put to rest when the Western Jets delivered a second half to remember. The Jets roared to life with a five-goal-to-nil third quarter, which was part of a nine-goal-to-one second half blitz.

“Our boys were fantastic in the third quarter,” Baker said. “It was certainly up there with some of our better footy.

“We had some leaders really lift in the third quarter and the rest of the guys got behind them.”

Captain Xavier O’Halloran and rapidly rising onballer Connor Thar instigated the comeback for the Western Jets with their play from the midfield.

Thar has been one of the bolters into draft contention in the second half of the season and showed why with a stellar performance.

O’Halloran’s leadership qualities and football ability stood up in a pressure situation.

“They were both really good in that third quarter,” Baker said. “They won us a lot of clearances and then the ball stayed in our forward half a fair period of time.”

Thar’s form continues to draw praise. The Werribee Districts product came second in the Morrish Medal vote count on Sunday night with 16 votes, just two behind winner Liam Stocker of the Sandringham Dragons.

“He’s had a terrific year,” Baker said of Thar.

“We calculated that he’s been in our best players 13 out of the 16 games.

“He’s had a very consistent season, but particularly his last 10 games, he’s gone from strength to strength.”

Emerson Jeka was the Western Jets most dangerous forward on the day. Jeka kicked three goals and took an impressive one-handed mark.

Daniel Pantalleresco chimed in with three goals, while Cassius White added two.

“There was a combination of things that occurred to help get the game on our terms,” Baker said.

“One of them was changing up a bit of the forward structure in that second half, which gave us a bit of a different look up forward.”

“Emerson’s ability to lead up and provide a contest was very good. It was nice to see him get some reward in the second half.”

Spencer Johnson’s run and carry was another feature of the Jets play.