Persistent Falcons break drought
By Matt Harris - for more league news visit NRL.com
The drought has finally broken.
Having suffered through the longest losing streak in Queensland Rugby League history, the perseverance of the Sunshine Coast Falcons has finally paid off as the proud club brought an end to a 36-match losing streak with a thrilling 26-24 win over the Redcliffe Dolphins in front of a raucous home crowd on Saturday night in Round 19 of the Intrust Super Cup.
The Falcons had not tasted victory in almost 2900 minutes of football and despite some close contests in recent weeks against the Northern Pride and Ipswich Jets were finally able to snare their first win of the season against perennial Intrust Super Cup powerhouse Redcliffe.
At the other end of the spectrum Tweed Heads continued their unbeaten streak with a thumping 60-28 win over the PG Hunters, Souths Logan outlasted Ipswich 42-40, Burleigh all but ended Mackay's title defence with a 28-20 win in Mackay, Wynnum defeated the Capras 40-10 on Stradbroke Island and a hat-trick to Cameron Munster saw Easts account for Norths 27-20.
But few wins all season will be celebrated quite like the Falcons' on Saturday night who on Tuesday will cap a momentous week when they announce a new alignment with an NRL club from the 2015 season.
While the two-point defeat has the Dolphins' finals hopes hanging by a thread after they slumped to their fifth successive defeat, the game belonged to the Falcons as they took advantage of another ordinary display by the Dolphins.
Trailing 12-10 at half-time, three straight tries after the break by the Falcons had the home side in the box seat and daring to dream of an elusive victory as they led 26-12 heading into the last 20 minutes.
The Dolphins mounted a late surge inside the final 15 minutes with tries to Queensland Residents' centre Aaron Whitchurch and a brilliant solo effort to nippy halfback Adrian Davis but it wasn't enough as the Falcons held on for a five-tries-to-four victory.
The Falcons started the first half brightly with a try in the corner to winger Paul McKewin that took the hosts out to a 4-0 lead in the 10th minute.
The game settled down into a sustained rhythm for an extended period until constant pressure on the Falcons' defensive line resulted in a try to Redcliffe hooker Hayden Hansen from a scrum play 10 metres out from the line. Davis slotted the conversion to hand the Dolphins a 6-4 lead after 27 minutes.
The Falcons scrambled well in defence and looked like holding the Dolphins out until Davis fended off an attempted tackle to slice his way through the Falcons' defensive line and score next to the posts to make it 12-4 in the 35th minute.
On the stroke of half-time the Falcons responded with a try to Rueben Baillie after he crashed over from close range with skipper Ryan Hansen adding the extras to see the Falcons only trail by two heading into the break.
The home side were first to strike five minutes into the second half when Jay Lobwein rolled a grubber kick in the direction of centre Rowan Klein with Hansen adding the extras to hand the Falcons the lead again at 16-12.
That lead soon extended moments later as in the very next set Klein's twin brother, Callum, crossed on the opposite side of the field after the Falcons steamrolled their way downfield with consummate ease.
It got even better for Sunshine Coast in the 59th minute when five-eighth Brett Doherty broke through the Dolphins' defensive line 25 metres out and dished off to an unmarked fullback Sam Wright to score under the sticks, taking the score out to 26-12.
The desperate Dolphins mounted a late surge inside the dying minutes which resulted in a second try to Davis. The electrifying halfback collected his own chip kick on the 40-metre line and dashed down the sideline to score, setting the game up for a nail-biting finish with the score reading 26-24 with three left on the clock.
Redcliffe threw the Steeden around in frantic fashion in their last two sets before full-time but couldn’t crack the determined Falcons who held on for a memorable victory. As the siren sounded the Sunshine Coast players embraced each other in emotional scenes before singing the team song on the halfway line for the first time since Round 3, 2013.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 26 (Sam Wright, Rowan Klein, Callum Klein, Paul McKewin, Rueben Baillie tries; Ryan Hansen 3 goals) def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 24 (Adrian Davis 2, Aaron Whitchurch, Hayden Hansen tries; Adrian Davis 4 goals) at Stockland Stadium.
Sunshine Coast Falcons: 1. Sam Wright 2. Joe Meninga 3. Rowan Klein 4. Callum Klein 5. Paul McKewin 6. Brett Doherty 7. Jay Lobwein 8. Mboya Adams 9. Matt Gilliman 10. Ryan Hansen (c) 11. Jaz Nahu-Main 12. Rueben Baillie 13. Jacob Samoa 14. Tom Murphy 15. James Leavai 16. Kyle Van Klaveren 18. Mitch Ebdon
Redcliffe Dolphins: 1. Chris Fox 2. Oliver Regan 3. Aaron Whitchurch 4. Marty Hatfield (c) 5. Liam Georgetown 6. Zach Strasser 7. Adrian Davis 8. Tyson Cleal 9. Hayden Hansen 10. Martin Cordwell 11. Tom Geraghty 12. Sarafu Fatiaki 13. Joe Bradley 14. Cameron Cullen 15. Nick Ritter 16. Jared Cherry 17. Caleb Hoffmann