Tommy Butterfield is the heart and soul of this Tigers team and his teammates ensured his 150th Intrust Super Cup game would be a memorable one as they despatched the CQ Capras 56-22 with a master class of controlled, fast paced rugby league.
The Capras opened the game with plenty of possession and some early penalties and they capitalised on both to open the scoring in the third minute when Josh Johnston crossed and Matt Minto converted to give them a 6-0 lead.
They were in again four minutes later when Corbyn Kilday latched on to an off-load from big Gerard Tema and scored. Minto converted and they were out to a 12-0 advantage. With the Tigers missing Matt Duffie and Felise Kaufusi from last week’s dramatic draw with the Blackhawks local fans could have been forgiven for thinking an upset was on the cards.
However, once the Tigers got some time in possession and began to complete their sets it was soon clear they were intent on domination.
The Tigers first try was off a well worked wrap-around that saw Michael Kai release Brandon Downey to score. They were at it again moments later as Shaun Nona put Shane Neumann away for the first of his tries. Then it was the turn of Jake Foster to make his first impression on the game as he broke down the left edge of the Capras defence and freed Neumann for his second. Shaun Nona converted all three tries and in five breath-taking minutes the Tigers had gone from 12 points down to an 18-12 lead.
The Tigers were not done in the half though, with Butterfield diving over beside the posts to send the Tigers to the sheds with a 24-12 lead at the break.
Halftime came at the right time for the Capras and coach Lionel Harbin’s must have known exactly which buttons to push because his side started the second half much as they has started the first.
In the seventh minute, Minto got into open space behind the Tigers line. Showing all his years of experience he realised he could not pass to anyone in a better position and so kicked ahead. Tarrant Mariner, following through, was on hand to touch down and close the gap to 24-16.
However, that was to be as good as it got for the home fans for the next 30 minutes as the Tigers backs and forwards combined to run over the Capras.
Donald Malone scored the next try with a set play move off a scrum and Nona’s conversion saw Easts take their lead to 30-16; extinguishing any faint hope local fans may have had of a comeback.
The Tigers forwards took control from this point with Francis Tualau and Foster amongst those to make big incisions. With the Capras defence continually in retreat, Downey got on the end of a sparkling backline more and brushed off opposition fullback to score his second try (and third in two games) to show that he really is at home in the top grade.
The next two tries both came off the back of long range efforts with Butterfield diving over to bring up try number two in game 150. Then it was Foster’s turn to dive over from dummy half to give the visitors another try and with Nona’s conversion the Tigers were out to a 56-16 lead.
Minto scored a late consolation try for the home side to bring their score up to 56-22.
The Capras will be hunting for a win this weekend when they welcome the Norths Devils to Browne Park while the Tigers face a tough road trip to Kokopo to take on the Hunters.
EASTS TIGERS 56 (Shane Neumann 2, Brandon Downey 2, Tommy Butterfield 2, Donald Malone, Maeli Seve, Shaun Nona, Jake Foster tries; Shaun Nona 8 goals) def CQ CAPRAS 22 (Tarrant Mariner, Matt Minto, Josh Johnston, Rajan Opetaia-Halls tries; Matt Minto 3 goals) at Browne Park.
CQ Capras: 1. Reece Baker 2. Jake Ainsworth 3. Marco Delapena 4. Tarrant Mariner 6. Matt Minto 7. Josh Mitchell 8. Gerard Tema 9. Mark Johnstone 10. Gavin Hiscox 11. Dan Randall 12. Guy Williams (c) 13. Corbyn Kilday 14. Dean McAdam 15. Josh Johnston 16. Rajan Opetaia-Halls 18. Josh Tanner 17. Tyson White
Easts Tigers: 1. Donald Malone 2. Maeli Seve 3. Shane Neumann 4. Michael Kai 5. Brandon Downey 6. Shaun Nona 19. Brentt Warr 8. Foisa Peni 9. Tommy Butterfield 10. Liam McDonald 11. Dane Hogan (c) 12. Jake Foster 13. Troy Giess 14. Francis Tualau 15. Matthew Zgrajewski 16. Brenton Horwood 18. Dwayne Craft