Western Jets had to overcome a hefty three-quarter time deficit to secure victory over Northern Knights in coach Ryan O’Keefe’s first game in charge.
The Jets trailed by 19 points at the last change in the NAB League season opener at Ikon Park on Sunday, but banged on six goals to two in the final term to run out seven-point winners.
Lucas Failli kicked the game-sealing goal for the Jets deep into time on.
O’Keefe lauded the Jets’ will to win on a day when they did not meet all their targets.
“It showed a really good character amongst the group to keep sticking it out and keep playing,” he said.
“We probably didn’t play our best footy … but in that last quarter we got to the way we wanted to play.
“The determination and the character of the boys is something to be really proud of.”
There was no ranting and raving in the Western Jets’ huddle at three-quarter time.
O’Keefe merely reminded the players to return to the processes they had worked on during the pre-season.
“We wanted to peel it back and just work on a couple of key points,” he said.
“It was a real good educational game for our boys. When we did do something and when we didn’t, the outcome really showed.”
O’Keefe felt the Jets played a little hesitantly in the first three quarters.
As the game wore on, the signs got better for the Jets and they eventually found the runway.
“It’s one of those things – first game, a lot of people are a bit nervous and probably played the game in their head before they got out there,” O’Keefe said.
One player who needed no settle time was Josh Kellett, son of one-time Western Bulldogs speedy utility Nigel. Kellett was superb in his role across half-back, effective both defensively and with his rebound out of defence.
“He used the ball well, defended well and he was definitely one of our better players,” O’Keefe said.
“He had a really good game and his form all pre-season was fantastic.”
Archi Manton, son of former Carlton and Essendon defender Glenn and one of the standouts in the practice matches, capped a stellar game with three goals.
“He’s competitive, he won all of his one-on-ones,” O’Keefe said.
“He was able to hit the scoreboard as well.
He was really hard to handle in our forward line.”
Other Jets to impress were Bailey Ryan and Josh Honey in the midfield and Ethan Acevski in defence.
The Jets will take on Eastern Ranges at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Sunday from 12.30pm.
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