When the Mackay Cutters went head to head with the CQ Capras last night, both teams brought a finals like intensity to the playing field. The two sides will end their seasons next week, after a hard onslaught of games that saw both teams up the ante as the season progressed.
With the Cutters losing by just two points against the top team in the Intrust Super Cup last week, Mackay locals swarmed the stadium, prepared to not only see another entertaining showdown but also celebrate the Cutters final home game.
It was clear that the Capras had a hard battle coming their way and despite bringing a lot of fire to the cauldron, it was the Cutters who put on the most impressive show, coming out on top 40-20 and making their home town proud.
Cutters winger and captain Liam Taylor said the supportive cheers of the crowd always helped to lift the team's spirits.
"It definitely helps, the more the crowd gets behind us it makes us more enthusiastic and we'll put that little extra effort in," he said.
Taylor thought the team performed their best in the second half despite a shaky start.
"When we've got the crowd behind us and when we play to what we know we are meant to be doing, that's when it works and that's what happened in the second half. In the first half we just weren't getting to the points where we needed to and sticking to our structure," he said.
Capras five-eighth Guy Williams opened the scoring in the seventh minute when he exposed the Cutters’ weak defence on the left side of the field.
A stellar break made by Cutters fullback Zac Santo evened out the score just 10 minutes later.
With the first half nearly over, both sides made use of the limited time with Capras winger Rhys Williams and Cutters centre Curtis Rona both taking advantage of their opponents gaps in defence and darting over to complete the tries. The score was not equal at half time though with a failed conversion by the Capras leaving the team trailing by two points 12-10.
Within 10 minutes of the second half, Mitch Zornig of CQ pushed his way over the try line. The Cutters did their best to hold the ball up before the visitors finally forced it to the ground gaining another four points.
The Cutters, determined to regain the lead, did just that. The team scored an incredible four tries in the space of 15 minutes, Justin Tavae slipping through gaps in the Capras defence to score twice. The power of Mackay's attack and their precision with the ball continued to strengthen with the team scoring yet again in the 72nd minute.
Despite the steely resolve of the Cutters, the Capras left the game scoring the final try. A lack of concentration from the home-side allowed their opponents to slip past and plant one beneath the goalposts.
Cutters coach Kim Williams said he was happy with the win.
"I was really happy with the second half in particular, I think we made it hard on ourselves in the first half," he said.
Williams thought next year's Intrust Super Cup looked promising for the Cutters.
"We've been playing some good footy, it's pretty exciting for the future at this club," he said.
MACKAY CUTTERS 40 (Curtis Rona 2, Justin Tavae 2, Zac Santo, John Asiata, Chris Gesch tries; Liam Taylor 6 goals) def CQ CAPRAS 20 (Rhys Williams, Guy Williams, Andrew Dale, Mitch Zornig tries; Hughie Stanley, Reece Baker goals) at Stadium Mackay.
Mackay Cutters: 1. Zac Santo 2. Liam Taylor (c) 3. Nico Mataia 4. Curtis Rona 5. Justin Tavae 6. Doug Hewitt 7. Brentt Warr 8. John Asiata 9. Anthony Mitchell 10. Karl Davies 11. Josh Osborne 12. Chris Gesch 13. Mitch Day 15. Aleki Falepaini 16. Rohan Ahern 17. Dean Webster 20. Pulou Vaituutuu
CQ Capras: 1. Marlon Doak 2. Sam Doherty 3. Hayden Buckman 4. Hughie Stanley 5. Rhys Williams 6. Guy Williams 7. Reece Baker 8. Andrew Dale 9. Tom McKenzie 10. Garrett Field 16. Mitch Zornig 12. Rajan Opetaia-Halls 13. Gavin Hiscox (c) 14. Dean Allen 21. George Jarrett 11. Arlin Paki 17. Brady Mayne