A lead-up which involved strong community engagement and learning helped the Narromine Jets break through for a first win of the Group 11 season on Sunday.
This year has been a tough one for the Jets but after nine successive losses the men in red and white scored a 32-24 victory over the Macquarie Raiders at Cale Oval.
It capped of a special day and meaningful week for the club.
The weekend saw the club celebrate NAIDOC week and the first grade side wore special one-off jerseys for the game against the Raiders.
But there was much more than that for captain-coach Wes Middleton and his team.
“We got invited to be involved with NAIDOC week at the high school, the principal invited us there,” Middleton said.
“We got to really engage with the community and we did some games and drills there as well.
“It was a really good preparation and that led to the way we performed. The boys were just really settled going in and were composed.”
The national NAIDOC theme this year was acknowledging the contribution and role women play in families, communities, history and the nation and that wasn’t lost on the Jets.
Middleton wanted his players to play for those women in their lives and that was what he got.
“With the theme being ‘because of her we can’, we’re all grateful for the women in our lives and the role they play,” he said.
“It was important we got that message across because it’s something we can relate to.
“One quarter of Aboriginal culture is about being thankful, not materialistic things and the boys really connected to that and the community got together.
“It was great for our club and our community and it sends a strong message to all Australians.”
In terms of on the field, Middleton’s men had been banging on the door in recent weeks and for many it felt like a matter of when, not if the side would score its first win of the year.
It wasn’t easy on Sunday and the Jets trailed 16-6 at one point before storming back to score victory and set off plenty of celebration among the Narromine faithful.
“It all worked on the weekend,” Middleton said.
“The boys hung in and the biggest thing was the discipline. There was no complaining and I think the boys just wanted to play and were grateful to be playing with their mates.
“We can get a little lost at times but the preparation grounded us and I’m very grateful for that and it’s something we can now work on.”
The win was more impressive given the fact the Jets were without halves Travis Lowe and Tyrone Walsh.
The pair represented Group 11 at the start of the year but haven’t featured in the past three rounds, with Middleton confirming Lowe had returned home to Newcastle.
“It had nothing to do with footy, he was missing home and we support that. Everyone needs to be happy,” he said.
#Group11 ladder after round 10:— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) July 8, 2018
1 Dubbo CYMS 20
2 Wellington Cowboys 16
3 Forbes Magpies 12
4 Parkes Spacemen 12
5 Nyngan Tigers 7
6 Dubbo Westside 6
7 Macquarie Raiders 5
8 Narromine Jets 2
First time since round three Nyngan is in top five while Narromine gets its first win
It was young guns who impressed again on the weekend, with DJ Kennedy shining in the halves while Tony Clevin was named players’ player for his top effort.
“He’s one of those guys who is just a livewire,” Middleton said of Clevin.
“He brings excitement and he plays reggies and then backs up.”
Middleton also singled out forward leaders Alex Sambrook and Ryan Richardson as key man in the breakthrough win.
After the victory, the Jets are now focused on this weekend’s game against the Forbes Magpies.