By Alex Chisholm
DOMINANT displays from Elijah Alick and Matt Richards saw the Easts Tigers beat Gold Coast Green 34-12 at Langlands Park in last weekend’s Cyril Connell Cup match.
Richards dictated play from halfback and got his fullback Alick involved as often as possible.
Gold Coast’s shining light was the clever Kepi Ta Ala, who bagged a double with his sharp play around the ruck.
The home side got off to a great start, winning a penalty off the kick off and forcing a goal line drop-out.
Gold Coast were made to pay on the very next set of six, as big Daniel Thompson showed some handy footwork for a front-rower to burst through and score. Richards added the conversion to make it 6-0.
Both sides then had chances to add to the score, but could only produce errors after some promising play.
A charge down from Gold Coast’s Tala Hellescoe saw Easts get the ball back on the half way mark and allowed them to go on yet another attack.
Richards produced the try scoring play as his last tackle cross field kick found a high flying Josh Gee, who in turn couldn’t handle it losing it backwards into the waiting hands of captain Braydon Pearse to score. Richards pushed his conversion wide, making the score 10-0.
The away side had their chance to get into the game after repeat penalties took them close to Easts line.
Ta Ala scored his first, crashing over from close range. Josh Willetts added the extras to close the gap to four points at 10-6.
Gold Coast however made a crucial mistake off the very next kick off, dropping the ball, giving Easts a chance to add to their tally.
They did just that off the ensuing scrum, with Richards linking up with Alick to put him outside his man. Alick scored the try and Richards converted making the half time score 16-6.
The second half began with a promising attack from the away side – only for them to be bundled into touch.
However it was Easts who scored first after a penalty got them some good field position.
Agassi Stowers showed some brilliant ball skills popping off a great offload to Richards to score. He converted his own try to make it 22-6.
Unfortunately Richards followed it up with a knock on off the kick off, giving Gold Coast a scrum in a dangerous position.
Fatigue started to set in the next phase of the game, as both sides continued to turn over possession.
The away side were next to score with their final points of the afternoon coming through Ta Ala again.
He popped up at dummy half yet again, where he scooted, stepping two players and going over. Fullback Willetts added the conversion to take the score to 22-12.
It didn’t take long for the home side to respond, as they spread it wide to winger Nick Udowika. He showed a clean pair of heels racing 60 odd metres before drawing in the fullback and passing to Nicolaidis to score. Richards added the conversion to make it 28-12.
With a minute remaining Easts got one last scrum, a final chance to add an extra try to their haul.
The home side didn’t disappoint, as Tyrone Pritchard scored using his strength to get him over the line. Richards took his personal points tally to 14 with the final conversion successful, making the final score 34-12 to the home team.
Meninga Cup Report - Tigers edge out Coast
Easts Tigers just edged Gold Coast Green 40-32 in a thrilling encounter at Langlands Park in the Meninga Cup.
The main attraction of this match was the battle of the five-eighths – Dean Layfield for Easts and Carne Rhodes for Gold Coast – the pair dominated proceedings, involved in almost everything - good or bad - in this match.
Jake Hargreaves support play showed maturity beyond his tender age, whilst Jackson Luke’s pace was too hot to handle for the home side.
The game started with some strong running from both sides, but a lost ball and a penalty conceded from Gold Coast gave Easts a great opportunity early.
The home side capitalised with a powerful run from prop Harlem Theodore-Wanoa taking him over for a try. Dean Layfield couldn’t convert, making it 4-0 to Easts.
Gold Coast then kicked the ball well into the in-goal area for Easts to retrieve – and they did so through Sekona Tupe who made it out, only for Easts to lose possession on the very next tackle.
The away team made them pay with an easy try for Jackson Luke, as Easts short side defence was caught napping. Carne Rhodes added the conversion to put his side in front 6-4.
Easts replied soon after, as they spread the ball wide with what looked like a forward pass from fullback Jake Hargreaves. Corey Bremner was the beneficiary scoring the try. Dean Layfield added the conversion to put the home side back in front 10-6.
The momentum swung in Easts favour after Dean Layfield kicked a wonderful 40/20 winning his side a scrum inside Gold Coast’s 20-metre line. But he lost the ball in the next set of six – unfortunately for Easts.
The game then settled into a rut as both sides turned the ball over repeatedly in the hot conditions.
It was Easts who scored next after a second man play to Jake Hargreaves saw him draw and pass the defender to put Brendan McBryde in for his first try of the afternoon. Layfield was successful with his conversion to take the score to 16-6.
Kulima Panapa followed this up with a strong run for Easts. He offloaded the ball after the referee had called held however and Gold Coast now had the ball in a dangerous position.
They made the home side pay, as Carne Rhodes produced a lovely chip kick for his centre Jake Beetson to score off. Rhodes scored the conversion to close the gap at 16-12.
A frantic end to the half saw both sides turn the ball over, with Easts ending up in possession.
Some great work through the middle saw Dean Layfield get a well-deserved try. He successfully converted making the score 22-12.
Gold Coast then went with a short kick off, which was spilled by Steve Toloa, giving the away side one last chance before half time.
They were awarded the penalty and went for goal successfully through Carne Rhodes as the half ended at 22-14 in the home sides favour.
The second half started with a flurry of activity as both sides created opportunities only for errors to cost them from adding to the score line.
Steve Toloa and Cameron Welch screamed for the ball as they had an acre of space in front. Impact player Emmerson Ovenden didn’t let them down as he produced a neat kick from dummy half that found Toloa to score Easts fifth try of the afternoon. Layfield couldn’t convert from out wide so the score was 26-14.
Easts continued their hot streak as they went wide the ball found its way to Dean Layfield, who showed his basketball skills, popping a ball over the top to Jake Hargreaves who streaked away from the defence to score. Layfield missed the conversion taking the score to 30-14.
Hargreaves was at it again soon after as Cameron Welch gave a lovely inside ball to him, but some desperate cover defence who gave away a penalty stopped him.
Eamon Kelly lost the ball trying an offload and Gold Coast got a scrum deep inside their own half – what happened next no one saw coming.
A wonderfully executed scrum play saw Carne Rhodes kick into the wide-open space behind Easts defensive line. Jackson Luke motored onto the kick and scored his second try. Rhodes added the extras to make it a ten-point gap at 30-20.
Easts went wide once again and Brendan McBryde got his second try of the afternoon. Dean Layfield added the conversion to take the score out to 36-20.
Gold Coast then won a penalty with ten minutes remaining and went on to score through Eden Syme. Rhodes converted to reduce the gap to 36-26.
The away side had the momentum at this point and they scored again as they went from side to side. The ball found Tyler Sparkes who crashed over for a try. Rhodes was radar like with his conversion once again to close the gap to four-points at 36-32.
But Easts weren’t finished, as Kulima Panapa made a great bust up the middle to take his side down the field.
Powerhouse prop Harlem Theodore-Wanoa scored his second of the afternoon in similar fashion to his first try. Layfield was unsuccessful with his conversion to give his side an eight-point lead at 40-32.
Gold Coast had one last chance as they found touch with their kick off. Carne Rhodes tried another kick to Jackson Luke from the scrum, but Easts cleaned it up to the relief of the home fans.