Courtesy of the Sunshine Coast Daily - By Anthony Brand
Image: Ritchie Duce - Level Eleven Photography
A COURAGEOUS second-half comeback was not enough to inspire the Sunshine Coast Falcons to victory last night against Norths at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
The home side was downed 24-18 after a week of hype surrounding the nine Melbourne Storm players who were named in the side.
However, the presence of NRL enforcers Ben Hampton, Kenny Bromwich, and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs could not quell the poor ball control that plagued the side through the opening hour of the match.
The Falcons set the tone for the night early when they spilled the ball in their first set of six.
It didn't get much better for the home side, who continued to shoot themselves in the foot through a dismal completion rate of just 50%.
Coach Glen Dreger admitted his players never gave themselves a chance in the first 60 minutes.
"It was terrible and there is no way to sugar coat it and I am very disappointed," he said.
"We spoke about that at half-time and it didn't get better for the first 20 minutes after that."
The Falcons only got worse in the opening stages of the second half when they leaked two more tries to trail 24-2 at the 60-minute mark.
But in a positive sign for the Coast outfit, the boys managed to improve vastly in the final quarter on the back of better ball control and hunger in attack to make it 24-18 in the 76th minute.
Dreger said if his side had played the same way during the first hour, it could have been a very different story.
"They did improve, but it was a bit too late by then," he said.
"We knew it was going to take time, but our whole theme this week was patience and we wanted to get our completions up and we didn't do that tonight."
Hampton starred for the Falcons and almost set up a try to level the scores in the final 20 seconds, breaking through the Devils' defence 30m out before being tackled just three metres from the line.
"I just got through them and their fullback did a bloody good job in the end there and we probably should have capitalised on that but we didn't," Hampton said.
"That comes with us not having played together and not knowing each other but that is going to come."
The Falcons face the Northern Pride in Cairns next weekend, while Mark Gliddon's Devils play the Burleigh Bears at home.
NORTHS DEVILS 24 (Dylan Galloway, Darren Nicholls, Brett Greinke, Byron Creighton tries; Darren Nicholls 4 goals) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 18 (Sam Wright, Hymel Hunt, Kemu Seru tries; Cory McGrady 3 goals) at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Sunshine Coast Falcons: 1. Travis Robinson 2. Sam Wright 3. Callum Klein 4. Hymel Hunt 5. Suli Vunivalu 20. Ben Hampton 7. Cory McGrady 8. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs 9. Slade Griffin 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Kenny Bromwich 19. Jake Samoa 13. Tom Murphy (c) 14. Billy Brittain 18. Kemu Seru 16. Johnny Vuetibau 15. Jordan Ryan
Norths Devils: 1. Luke Pollock 2. Michael Lucas 3. Dylan Galloway 4. Steve Elliott 5. Kainga Turner 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Darren Nicholls (c) 8. Mark Vaiao 9. Krys Freeman 10. Jarrod Wallace 11. Brett Greinke 12. Todd Lowrie 13. Byron Creighton 15. Richard Tuala 16. Chris Faust 17. Billy Solah 20. Josh Afoa