Belief is starting to grow for the Western Jets in the NAB League finals.
The Jets produced an impressive come-from-behind eight-point win over Northern Knights in the elimination final at Mars Stadium on Saturday.
It comes hot on the heels of the Jets’ big 50-point win over Greater Western Victoria Rebels in the wildcard round that ended their three-game losing streak towards the back end of the home-and-away campaign.
“Finals are a different kettle of fish,” Jets football operations manager Matthew Dervan said. “It’s hard not to get really excited by the way they’re playing.
“When you win a final away from Melbourne against an opposition we struggled with a couple of weeks earlier, it was pure elation on the boys as the siren went.
“They couldn’t wait to get into the rooms after the game and sing the song and they sang it with gusto.
“It was great to see all the parents and the families get around and support them as well.”
A wildly fluctuating first half between the Jets and the Knights was all to do with the wind blowing ferociously to one end of the Ballarat stadium.
The Knights had the aid of the breeze in the first quarter and led 37-1 at quarter-time after booting six goals to nil in the first term.
The Jets returned fire with a six-goal-to-nil quarter of their own to have scores dead-locked at half-time.
The third quarter is where the Jets began to lay their foundations for victory, managing to kick three goals into the wind, an end where there were only four goals kicked for the whole game.
“It was important that we were able to score against the wind,” Dervan said. “We got ourselves two crumbing goals and a nice set shot from Aaron Clarke and that gave us a bit of momentum heading into the last quarter.”
Down by five points at three-quarter time, Western Jets sealed the win with a three-goal-to-one last quarter.
Archi Manton was a key focal point again for the Jets with four goals. It is not only the goals that Manton is kicking that is proving valuable for his side.
“He’s become a very reliable target,” Dervan said. “He’s creating a contest in the air and doing the work on the ground, and he’s rewarding himself by converting his chances, especially from the set shots.”
Will Kennedy competed hard in the ruck for the Jets.
The former Sandringham Dragons player has been a leader for the Jets all season.
“He’s doing a power of work for us in the ruck and he’s a good guide for the younger guys,” Dervan said.
Keelan Crimmins has been as dependable as any of the Jets defenders this season.
He is one of the quiet achievers of the side.
“You give him a job and he does it for us,” Dervan said. “He provides good impact in the air defensively.”
Some of the Jets bottom-age players got in on the act as well.
Nash Reynolds kicked two goals and brought a lot of energy as a high half forward and Lucas Failli impacted at ground level both in the midfield and forward line.
Western Jets will take some momentum into their cut-throat semi-final against Gippsland Power at Ikon Park on Saturday at 1.30pm.