Anzac Day is an emotional day all over the country, but it takes on a special meaning in a garrison city such as Townsville and the emotion was palpable as the two top teams in the Intrust Super Cup lined up for a moving on-field ceremony.
Standing shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm; the Blackhawks and the Tigers took time out before kick-off to remember the sacrifices that were made 100 years ago so that we can enjoy the freedoms we do in 2015.
After a moving ceremony, complete with a performance of the national anthem the top of the table clash began as expected; with impressive line speed and some solid contact from both sides. However handling errors and poor fifth tackle options resulted in a 15-minute arm wrestle where no points were scored.
It took a special tip-on play from fullback Jahrome Hughes to break the deadlock, with Hughes tip on landing in the hands of prolific try scorer Zac Santo who crossed in the corner for the first points of the match. Five minutes later, back-to-back penalties propelled the Blackhawks downfield and the crafty fullback was at it again, terrorising the Tigers left edge and putting Moses Pangai over with a slick pass.
Memories of the previous week’s eight failed conversions faded fast as Kyle Feldt made the first two conversions look like child’s play from out wide taking the score to 12-0 at the 16th minute.
The work rate from Daniel Beasley, Lorenzo Ma’afu and Neville Costigan both on and off the ball was immense and the Blackhawks began to chew up easy metres and spent the rest of the first half marching downfield at will.
Battling their way out of their own end the Tigers coughed up the ball following a scrum and a cheeky Michael Parker-Walshe took instant advantage scooping up the ball and running 20m to score once more in the left corner.
Beasley was penalised and placed on report shortly after a tackle on Shaun Nona. The resulting set produced the first points for the Tigers after Donald Malone slipped through some tired Blackhawks defence. Malone converted his own try taking the score to 18-6 after 34 minutes.
Another handling error 20m out from the Tigers line led to the final points of the first half after a quick pass from Anthony Mitchell found Pangai out wide. The hulking centre proved too strong to stop close to the line and the Blackhawks went to the break leading 22-6.
The second half began as the first half ended with the Tigers spilling a Blackhawks high kick and Glenn Hall picking up the scraps to score a rare four pointer. The Tigers took some time to hit back and did so in the 55th minute after Shane Neumann ducked out of a number of ineffective tackles before forcing his way over the Blackhawks line.
The Blackhawks were next to score, this time through Robert Lui at close range. Lui converted his own try taking the score to 34-12 with 17 minutes left to play.
There was some controversy in the closing stages of the match after a Ma’afu tackle on Grant Giess erupted into push and shove from both sides. Ma’afu was placed on report and the resulting set involved some driving defence from a fired up Blackhawks.
The final points of the match started with a brilliant cut out pass from Lui and some fast feet from Jonathon Reuben and ended with a try under the posts to Feldt taking the closing score to 40-12.
Coach Kristian Woolf highlighted the defence of his troops as the stand out factor against the Tigers, noting that it was the Blackhawks best performance of the year so far.
“We set a standard in defence in the match on Saturday. We will be aiming to continue to perform at that level defensively for the rest of the season,” he said.
“We really made the Tigers work hard to score their tries and we want to continue making it tough for our opposition to score points moving forward.”
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 40 (Mosese Pangai 2, Zac Santo, Kyle Feldt, Robert Lui, Michael Parker-Walshe, Glenn Hall tries; Kyle Feldt 3, Robert Lui 3 goals) def EASTS TIGERS 12 (Shane Neumann, Donald Malone tries; Donald Malone 2 goals) at Jack Manski Oval
Townsville Blackhawks: 1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Zac Santo 3. Kyle Feldt 4. Mosese Pangai 5. Jonathon Reuben 6. Robert Lui 7. Michael Parker-Walshe 9. Anthony Mitchell 10. Daniel Beasley (c) 11. Glenn Hall 12. Rhyse Martin 13. Neville Costigan 14. Nathan Norford 15. Lorenzo Ma'afu 16. Noel Underwood 17. Kelepi Tanginoa 19. Corey Jensen
Easts Tigers: 1. Eddie Tautali 2. Richie Kennar 3. Shane Neumann 4. Donald Malone 5. Matt Duffie 6. Shaun Nona 7. Grant Giess 8. Christian Welch 9. Tommy Butterfield 10. Liam McDonald 11. Dane Hogan (c) 12. Jake Foster 13. Troy Giess 14. Francis Tualau 15. Matthew Zgrajewski 16. Dayne Weston 18. Dean Britt