When a team wins 50-6 there are bound to be smiles, however there can have been few bigger than the smile on the face of Foisa Peni and his team-mates, as the big man scored his first Intrust Super Cup try on Sunday.
Immensely popular with fans and team-mates alike, Peni’s recent form revival coincides with his team’s return to form, which culminated in their comprehensive victory over the Norths Devils in the XXXX Rivalry Round.
The Tigers had had an interrupted build up during the week, with first Cameron Munster and then his replacement Donald Malone being ruled out of the squad. In the end, fullback Maeli Seve joined his team-mates less than 24 hours before kick-off.
While Storm contracted Matt Duffie was deservedly XXXX man of the match for his four try effort, it was the work of the Tigers core players like Peni, Liam McDonald and Grant and Troy Giess amongst others that lead to the win.
However, it was Eddie Tautali who scored the first try of the day when he received a long flat cut out pass from Shaun Nona. He took the ball on the outside shoulder of his marker and had the pace and fend to get around his man and find the try line.
Easts had found the line a number of times before Duffie got the first of his four tries when he benefitted from lovely interplay between the Tigers halves.
Nona wrapped around Giess and that was enough to get the Norths winger to come in off his line; a decision which you could immediately see on his face he knew was the wrong one. However it was too late, Nona unleashed Duffie who strolled over in the corner.
After 25 minutes, the Devils finally got their first set of six on attack in the Tigers half and a great kick by Liam Tyson nearly opened the Tigers up.
However, dogged defence by Giess and Seve denied them. This was to be the Devils only chance in the first half as the Tigers immediately took back control of the game and started scoring tries again.
Duffie got the next two, to complete a first half hat trick.
Late in the half, Tigers coach Craig Ingebrigtsen replaced hooker Tom Butterfield with young Billy Walters, who slotted seamlessly into the Tigers attack. From the moment he stepped on to the field, he had eyes up and was watching exactly where the Norths defence was and had a big part to play in the Tigers next try which saw them go out to a 36-0 lead at halftime.
The Devils opened the second half with a much more determined approach and were hard on attack straight away. Fullback Sean Loxley kicked high for winger Luke Pollock who batted the ball down into the waiting arms of Tyson who scored the try and converted it as well.
Unfortunately those points were all the Devils could accrue on the day.
The Tigers, however, were not done, with two tries to Michael Kai and a fourth to Duffie to round their day out.
Ingebrigtsen said he was very happy with his team’s first half, which he described as “clinical”.
While admitting that their second half was “scrappy”, he would have been happy that the Tigers kept the Devils to one try and that there was no late-game scoring spree like the Falcons achieved the week previous.
EASTS TIGERS 50 (Matt Duffie 4, Michael Kai 2, Richie Kennar, Eddie Tautali, Jake Foster, Foisa Peni tries; Shaun Nona 5 goals) def NORTHS DEVILS 6 (Liam Tyson try; Liam Tyson goal) at Bishop Park.
Norths Devils: 1. Sean Loxley 2. Luke Pollock 3. Dylan Galloway 4. Ryan Millard 5. Joel Bailey 6. Joshua Fauid 7. Liam Tyson 8. Richard Tuala 9. Krys Freeman 10. Chris Faust 11. Michael Molo 12. Rhett Webster 13. Steve Elliott 14. Will McNee 15. Billy Solah 16. Matt Mizzi 17. Josh Afoa
Easts Tigers: 1. Maeli Seve 2. Richie Kennar 3. Michael Kai 4. Eddie Tautali 5. Matt Duffie 6. Shaun Nona 7. Grant Giess 8. Matthew Zgrajewski 9. Tommy Butterfield 10. Liam McDonald 11. Dane Hogan (c) 13. Troy Giess 14. Francis Tualau 15. Jake Foster 16. Foisa Peni 17. Billy Walters 18. Brenton Horwood