THE ABSOLUTE Enterprises Mackay Cutters have kept themselves well in the hunt for an Intrust Super Cup finals berth after a dominant display against the Burleigh Bears at Stadium Mackay last night.
In front of a healthy crowd on a crisp night, the 46-4 victory by the Cutters came as somewhat of a surprise, as the two clubs historically have very close games, often decided in the dying minutes.
The Burleigh side almost had a dream start to the game, as the Cutters spilled the opening kick-off in their in goal area, and were forced to defend the opening set of the game on their own try line. Some rugged Mackay defence kept the visitors scoreless on their first attacking raid.
Some ill-discipline from the Bears gifted the home side great field positon, and the Cutters found their first points of the game on their first set inside the Burleigh red zone.
Fullback Sam Clune created an overlap in the Bears’ defence, and he put a nice short ball onto the chest of Ben Jones for the first try of the night. Liam Taylor missed his first attempt at goal, and the lead stayed 4-0.
Burleigh were doing things the hard way after their restarting kick-off went out over the dead ball line on the full. The resulting Mackay penalty had the Bears scrambling to make tackles, and the away team survived the first attacking set, but the Cutters were soon back on the attack, and back on the scoreboard.
Mackay hooker Josh Chudleigh had the Burleigh defence doing a double take as his show-and-go from dummy half had him sliding over the try line from short range. Taylor didn’t miss his second conversion attempt, and the Cutters hit double figures early.
The Bears were beginning to rue their missed chances, and despite multiple attacking sets on the Cutters try line, they were coming up empty handed.
Just when it looked like the visitors were going to crack the Cutters wall, a long pass was intercepted by Taylor who sprinted 60 metres downfield for the home team and got a beautiful pass away for Buchanan Rawhiti who took a diving catch, but he injured himself in doing so, and was stretched off the field.
Undeterred, the Cutters pressed deeper into Burleigh’s territory and soon found themselves with more points. Some hot potato passing saw the Mackay team in space, and it was five-eighth Cameron Cullen throwing a perfect pass to Brenden Treston to send him through the Bears line and in to score.
Burleigh were beginning to lose their grip on the contest, and it got even worse for them as Cutters winger Jordan Pereira crossed in the corner, latching onto a beautiful flick pass from Clune. Chudleigh then doubled his money, sliding through some Bears defenders to extend the gap further.
As the halftime siren sounded, the Bears finally found themselves on the scoreboard. Poor edge defence from the Cutters saw Burleigh fullback Talor Walters scoring out wide, but the failed conversion attempt saw the Cutters head to the sheds with a 28-4 lead.
The Bears came out firing in the second half, spurred on by some stern words by their coach. It looked like they had the first points of the half when Zac Mackay crossed out wide, but the pass from his halfback was ruled to have gone forwards.
The Cutters soon capitalised on the dejected Burleigh outfit, with Cutters captain Chris Gesch sliding under the posts to give Taylor a simple conversion and a 30-point advantage.
The Bears weren’t going to just rollover though, and they proved stoic in defence as Cullen sparked a long-range attack raid on the Bears try line. Cullen wriggled through some over eager Bears tacklers and raced away downfield, getting a ball to Jones who knocked the ball on with the try line in sight.
It didn’t seem to faze the home side though, as minutes later a hard running Tyson Martin surged past several Bears defenders on his way over the try line, and a successful conversion saw the Cutters rack up 40 points.
Taylor had proven himself a class above all night, and the Cutters halfback was instrumental in the final scoring play of the game. The Bears pressed deep on the attack and a sweeping backline play had the Cutters scrambling in defence. Burleigh were one pass away from a certain try when Taylor stuck out an arm and took a masterful interception, racing 90m downfield before a miraculous come-from-behind tackle from former Cutter Todd Seymour saw him cut short of the try line.
It was all too easy from there for Mackay as the Bears defence failed to recover, and debutant Braden Uele found himself with a four pointer. Taylor finished what he started with a simple conversion, and the Cutters had run away with the game.
The result maintains Mackay position within the top six on the Intrust Super Cup ladder, further strengthening the possibility of a finals campaign at season’s end.
MACKAY CUTTERS 46 (Josh Chudleigh 2, Jordan Pereira, Ben Jones, Brenden Treston, Tyson Martin, Chris Gesch, Braden Uele tries; Liam Taylor 7 goals) def BURLEIGH BEARS 4 (Talor Walters try) at Stadium Mackay.
Mackay Cutters: 1. Sam Clune 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Ben Jones 4. Justin Tavae 5. Buchanan Rawhiti 6. Cameron Cullen 7. Liam Taylor 8. Brad Lupi 9. Josh Chudleigh 18. Pulou Vaituutuu 11. Brenden Treston 12. Tyson Martin 13. Chris Gesch (c) 14. Aleki Falepaini 10. Ryan Kinlyside 15. Joss Boyton 17. Braden Uele
Burleigh Bears: 1. Talor Walters 2. Zac Mackay 3. Jamie Dowling 4. Tyron Haynes 5. Dimitri Pelo 6. Todd Seymour 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Mitch Sharp 9. Tom Rowles 21. David Hala 11. Ayden Lee 12. Sam Swift 13. Darren Griffiths (c) 14. Jenan Parrish 15. Louie Fanene 16. Shaun Maloney 17. Caleb Morehu