THE Western Jets are going down swinging in the TAC Cup. They are one of the form teams since the start of June with six wins from their past nine outings after a horror start.
They left another positive footprint on Saturday with a 77-point dismantling of Bendigo Pioneers at a wet and wild Epsom Huntly Reserve.
Finals are beyond the Jets, but coach Steven Kretiuk says his side has plenty to play for when they meet arch-rivals Calder Cannons in the last home-and-away game at Highgate Recreation Reserve on Saturday morning.
"They embarrassed us last time we played," he told the Weekly, pointing to a 112-point defeat in round four.
"It's about our pride and putting a really good performance out there. "We want our top-age players having their last impact at TAC Cup level putting something forward to the recruiters and our bottom-age players seeing where they're at in terms of playing against arguably one of the best teams in the competition."
The Jets have been superb defensively in back-to-back wins over the past fortnight. They restricted the Pioneers to just three goals in a miserly display.
"When they had the wind, we really stepped up the defensive aspects of our game and made it hard for them to score," Kretiuk said. "It was obviously the telling factor in the game."
Sam Critchley was solid as a rock for the Jets down back. The key defender was not out-pointed in a single contest and used the ball well on the rebound.
The Jets had a dominant forward line, led by six-goal star Lachie Hunter.
The 17-year-old, son of Mark and potential father-son prospect for the Western Bulldogs,
capped a fine week after receiving an invitation to October's NAB AFL draft combine.
Hunter, who usually plays as a hard-running midfielder, was confined to the attacking 50 due to a bout of osteitis pubis and appeared at ease in the role close to goal.
"He hasn't trained for a while so we had to play him as a small forward," Kretiuk said.
"He made good position, read the ball well in the wind and judged the flight of the footy much better than most other players in the game."
With three goals, Spencer White was the other dominant forward for the Jets.
Kretiuk says a modified training plan is paying dividends for a player he dubbed "the most dynamic tall forward in the competition".
"We just think in the first half of the year he didn't take the steps we expected him to," he said. "We formulated a program he had to complete every Tuesday before he could join in with the group and he's done that week in, week out. It's certainly improved his footy.
"It was all about the way he reads the footy, the second and third efforts and just playing the basics of the game.
"He was outstanding today, playing his role in the side and not trying to be someone he's not."
The first bounce of the Jets' stoush with the Cannons is at 11am.