Gritty Tigers secure grand final berth

Easts Tigers are the first team through to the Intrust Super Cup grand final after an upset 29-16 victory over the Northern Pride at Barlow Park.


Having never won in Cairns in six previous attempts and with key forwards Dane Hogan, Liam McDonald and Lagi Setu sidelined, the odds were stacked against the Tigers for their trip north.


However, in a performance built on defensive resolve, the Tigers handed the Pride just their fifth loss in their past 43 games on home turf.


Hooker Tommy Butterfield, who received the XXXX man of the match award, summed up the underdog sentiment within the Tigers camp.


From where weve come from no one gave us a chance but Trigger (coach Craig Ingebrigtsen) gave us belief right through and we believed in ourselves. Were here now and just one game away (from a premiership), he said after the match.


Butterfield was a constant threat from dummy half and struck a crucial blow when a sneaky short-side play set up centre Shane Neumann with the scores locked at 16-all.


That piece of nous gave the Tigers a 22-16 lead which they extended further thanks to Grant Giess, who put rampaging second rower Tim Glasby into space.


They then iced the win with a field goal from Cody Walker in the final minute.


It was an uncharacteristic error-riddled performance from the Pride, who now face Mackay Cutters at Langlands Park next Sunday in an elimination semi-final.


The Cairns-based club were stunned by the visitors early, with Easts notching two tries in the opening ten minutes.


A barging run from Matt Zgrajewski gave Easts a 16-6 advantage at the break but the Pride reloaded in an enthralling second half.


The competitions leading try scorer Davin Crampton stepped though some weary defence and when Kyle Feldt scored in the 70th minute it looked as if the Tigers were on the ropes.


But the Tigers rebounded themselves thanks to the Butterfield/Neumann combination, securing the clubs first appearance in a top grade grand final since the epic 2004 extra time loss to Burleigh Bears.


Meanwhile, the Tigers FOGS Cup side have the chance to defend their 2012 premiership after also progressing to the decider with a come-from-behind 22-16 win over Norths.


Easts touched down for three tries in the final 15 minutes, with winger Ryan Pooley grabbing the match winner.


In the Colts Challenge, the Tigers went down 13-12 to Redcliffe in golden point. The boot of Dolphins five-eighth John Brady proved the difference.


They now face Wynnum Manly at 12noon at Langlands Park on Sunday in the preliminary final.


EASTS TIGERS 29 (Maeli Seve, Shane Neumann, Cody Walker, Matthew Zgrajewski, Tim Glasby tries; Cody Walker 4 goals; Cody Walker field goal) def NORTHERN PRIDE 16 (Kyle Feldt, Davin Crampton, Semi Tadulala tries; Ethan Lowe 2 goals) at Barlow Park.