The Easts Tigers and Ipswich Jets played out a thrilling encounter on Sunday with the Tigers taking out a ‘heart-in-the-mouth’ 18-16 win.
These two teams always produce exciting football and this game, played under a bright blue sky with little breeze and in front of a boisterous crowd, typified everything that makes Sunday afternoon football and the Intrust Super Cup so great.
The Jets are renowned as ‘the Entertainers’ of the competition and threw everything they had at the Tigers; from the short kick-off, to kicking early in the tackle count and running on the last tackle. They tried every trick in their playbook; but for the most part, Tigers defence was able to repel them all.
Shane Neumann, widely regarded as the premier defensive centre in the competition, reminded everybody that he is far from just a defensive weapon as he scored two sparkling tries.
The Storm-contracted Mahe Fonua had opened the scoring for the Tigers in the 28th minute after Brentt Warr, snaking his way across the field opened a hole in the defence and Fonua was strong enough and fast enough to take the half gap and score in carpark corner.
This took the score to 4-2 after Carlin Anderson had earlier opened the scoring for the Jets with a penalty goal. The teams then exchanged tries with Richard Pandia going in for the Jets in spectacular fashion and Neumann getting his second to take the halftime score to 14-8 to the Tigers.
For the Tigers, this win extended their record at home this season to seven wins and a solitary loss. It was based on the things the side have been doing well all year – combining strong defence with the good work of their impressive forward pack that makes plenty of metres and rolls over whatever is put on front of it.
To hold this Jets side to only three tries and to keep a strike weapon like Nemani Valekapa off the scoresheet is a remarkable feat in its own right. This was the Jets second lowest score of the season, only the Pride (20-14 in Round 16) have kept them to fewer points.
In a game that featured standout performances across the board, it was the work of Tigers rake Tommy Butterfield that was rewarded with the XXXX man of the match award following his strong involvement in both defence and attack.
For the Jets, Valekapa worked hard and was strong all day, especially in the second half when he seemed to pop up everywhere in attack at the Jets probed for the try that would give them the win.
The last 10 minutes of the game were incredibly tense with the Jets mounting sustained pressure on the Tigers without being able to find the opening they needed.
Landon Hayes continued to show he was a capable replacement for Matt Parcell, while Brandon McGrady reminded everyone just how dangerous he can be out wide.
The Tigers are still searching for their best combinations in attack, however they showed this weekend that they are getting closer by the day.
Both sides face tough assignments this weekend as the Tigers welcome the Townsville Blackhawks to Tapout Energy Stadium, while the Jets travel to BMD Kougari Oval to take on the high-flying Wynnum Manly Seagulls.
EASTS TIGERS 18 (Shane Neumann 2, Michael Kai, Mahe Fonua tries; Shaun Nona goal) def IPSWICH JETS 16 (Richard Pandia, Brandon McGrady, Billy McConnachie tries; Carlin Anderson 2 goals) at Tapout Energy Stadium, Langlands Park.
Easts Tigers: 20. Donald Malone 2. Matt Duffie 3. Shane Neumann 4. Michael Kai 19. Mahe Fonua 6. Shaun Nona 18. Brentt Warr 8. Brenton Horwood 9. Tommy Butterfield 10. Liam McDonald 11. Dane Hogan (c) 12. Jake Foster 13. Troy Giess 14. Francis Tualau 22. Foisa Peni 21. Matthew Zgrajewski 17. Billy Walters
Ipswich Jets: 1. Carlin Anderson 2. Richard Pandia 3. Chris Walker 4. Nemani Valekapa 5. Brandon McGrady 6. Josh Cleeland 7. Dane Phillips 8. Josh Seage 9. Landon Hayes 10. Rod Griffin 11. Sam Martin 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Keiron Lander (c) 14. Fakahoko Teutau 15. Kurtis Lingwoodock 16. Billy McConnachie 17. Liam Capewell