The Easts Tigers have come from 14-0 down to secure their third-consecutive FOGS Cup premiership, defeating the Wynnum Manly Seagulls 20-14 at Suncorp Stadium this afternoon.
A 16-point solo effort from Jack Joass and match-saving defence from XXXX Man of the Match Eddie Tautali headlined the Tigers remarkable comeback.
In a match ruled by momentum, it was joint-minor premiers Wynnum Manly who started strong early, with half Chris Green opening the scoring through a penalty conversion in the seventh minute.
The Tigers looked to have a try soon after, however it was called back when the referee ruled the ball had been knocked forward prior to crossing the line.
Wynnum were able to do what Easts could not, when an errant bounce from a Wynnum kick split the Easts defence, allowing Jeriah Goodrich to run between the lines and ground the ball for the first four pointer of the match.
Soon after it was Mitchell Krause’s turn to take advantage of a tumbling ball, beating-out the Tigers cover defence to score in the right-hand corner. Green added the extras and the Seagulls took a 14-0 advantage and all the momentum into halftime.
Easts came out after the break and cracked the scoreboard early, with halfback Joass bouncing out of multiple tackles before slipping through the line to score beside the uprights. Joass added the extras to bring the difference back to a manageable eight points.
Winger Dane Chang made a blistering break down the left-edge, only to be caught metres from the line. The break drew a penalty from the scrambling Wynnum defence, with Joass capitalising to run in his second four pointer under the posts.
With the momentum now firmly in the Tigers’ favour, Wynnum just needed to consolidate and work their way into field position. Instead, an error at the beginning of the set allowed Tigers half Billy Walters to scoop up the loose ball. Two plays later fullback Tautali made the Seagulls pay, crossing beside the posts to put Easts in front for the first time with 15 minutes to play.
The Tigers could have been in once more on the next attacking play if not for Joe Mua, whose clutch tackle brought Ashley Little to the ground inches short of the line. A penalty at the end of the set allowed Joass to convert for a 20-14 lead.
A chance for Wynnum to equalise went begging, when Krause sped down the right wing. The Wynnum winger looked set to score, however great cover defence from Tautali pushed Krause into the corner post and across the line into touch, in what proved to be the deciding play of the match.
Wynnum pressured the Tigers defence in the dying minutes, and for a moment it looked as though Shea Moylan had forced his way over from dummy half. Instead, the centre was greeted by four Tigers defenders, who pushed him into touch and secured the comeback 20-14 victory.
EASTS TIGERS 20 (Jack Joass 2, Eddie Tautali tries; Jack Joass 4 goals) def WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS 14 (Jeriah Goodrich, Mitchell Krause tries; Chris Green 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium.
Man of the Match: Eddie Tautali (Easts Tigers)
Halftime: Wynnum Manly 14 - Easts Tigers 0
Wynnum Manly Seagulls: 1. Jeriah Goodrich 2. Mitchell Krause 3. Michael O'Keefe 4. Shea Moylan 5. Benaiah Bowie 6. Kurt French 7. Chris Green 8. Billy Solah 9. Lachlan Bristow 10. Josh Hoffman 11. Anthony Scott 12. Hanan Laban (c) 13. Stephen Coombe 14. Alehana Mara 15. Nathan Crowley 16. Joe Mua 17. Sosaia Makisi
Easts Tigers: 1. Eddie Tautali 2. Dane Chang 3. Jacob Paul 4. Nick Obodin 5. Michael Kai 6. Jack Joass 7. Billy Walters 8. Liufau Hala 9. Geoff Holcombe 10. John Puna 11. Luke Lavelle (c) 12. Dwayne Craft 13. Ashley Little 14. Foisa Peni 15. Joshua Everett 16. Jye Ballinger 17. James Salter