by Jordan Witte
After a stunning win against Airport Saints, the top 17s Jets have come crashing back to Earth against Penola Saints, falling to a 20-32 result on Tuesday night.
In direct contrast to their high-pressure, flowing style of netball displayed two weeks ago, the Jets were unable to repeat the dose, as Penola first choked the Jets defensively, before rebounding and beating them on the spread.
An even first quarter, where Alix Colafella and Chanel Romeo worked well together in attack to keep the Jets within two goals at the first break, was cancelled out by a Penola surge in the second and third quarters.
Romeo put in her second good performance in as many weeks, with her work rate a highlight. The goal shooter’s accuracy when shooting and passing is developing at a rapid rate, after missing most of the pre-season due to an overseas holiday.
The signs at quarter time were positive, but any positivity was quickly extinguished. Penola upped their work rate and the Jets were unable to respond.
Despite Nat Williams’ best efforts in wing defense, the Jets couldn’t restrict Penola’s offensive flow. As a result, defenders Zoe Usher and Bela Hartman – constantly under pressure – couldn’t stem the avalanche of goals, with Penola stringing together five goals in a row at one stage.
The message at half time was clear: lift.
Wing attack Darja Bilyanska and centre Lucy Beath did their best to bring their goalers into the game, but despite the best efforts of goal attack Latesha Hardaway and Romeo, the Jets couldn’t eat into the Penola lead.
There were positive signs after three-quarter time. The Jets scored the first three goals of the quarter to briefly breathe life into the game, before the Saints regained control.
Williams persevered to notch three interceptions in the final quarter, while Colafella toiled fruitlessly in the defensive third.
Post-game, the disappointment was evident from both the coaching staff and the players.
“They’re good, but they’re not that good. And we’re definitely not that bad,” coach Jordan Witte said. “They may as well be the Vixens, after that effort.”
“We need to learn how to keep pushing and working when it’s not going our way. There’s a lot to learn from that game.”
In a glimmer of hope, Penola’s statistical domination did not entirely translate to the scoreboard. The Jets were still able to score 20 goals, but the improvement must lie in the defensive side of the game.
The Jets scored from 20 of their 34 entries into the attacking third, but committed a season-high 28 turnovers going forward.
The Jets will get the opportunity to redeem themselves in a little under a week, when they tackle Doncaster and Districts.