TOWNSVILLE Blackhawks have maintained top spot on the Intrust Super Cup ladder following a 20-13 victory over the Sunshine Coast Falcons on Saturday.
The Blackhawks relied on solid goal-line defence and were blessed by numerous handling errors from the Falcons to walk away with the two points.
Blackhawks coach Kristian Woolf admitted his side didn’t play their best football, and that the Falcons were perhaps unlucky to not pinch the points.
“We started five percent off our game at the start,” Woolf said.
“They [Sunshine Coast] played really tough and physical.”
In an error-riddled game, Townsville were boosted by the incredible work of the Blackhawks’ forwards and a new father.
“Ray [Thompson] actually had his first child during the week,” Woolf said.
“He made a really team call to come down and play.
“Dan Beasley was terrific too. Along with Neville Costigan, they were out best two through the middle.”
Opposing Coach Glen Dreger applauded his side’s performance and was pleased with their showing – although he could have liked to have claimed the competition points.
“We were really happy with the performance and obviously disappointed not to get the points,” Dreger said.
“I thought we were in control for a good 60 minutes, but too many errors crept in.
“Against a quality side like Townsville, you just can’t do that.”
Falcons five-eighth Ben Hampton pitched a strong claim for man of the match and as well as scoring one try, put in a pivotal effort in defensive. At one point, he forced an error in a try-stopping effort on his own line.
The visitors opened the scoring after an even opening period when hooker Anthony Mitchell dashed out of dummy-half from two metres out after 18 minutes.
The Falcons regathered and drew even with a try from Jacob Samoa from a drop-out, on the back of a terrific set and kick from the Falcons. The Falcons then managed to lead 7-6 at halftime when David Oakes knocked over a field goal with seconds left before the siren.
Shortly after the re-start, Hampton dumbfounded the Townsville line with an incredible dummy and scored what would be the Falcons’ final points of the afternoon.
Minutes later, Townsville reduced the margin once again to one point, capitalising on repeat sets in the Falcons defensive 20m.
Despite being in attacking positions and developing opportunities regularly throughout the second-half, the home side inevitably were overrun by the top-of-the-ladder Blackhawks.
Rhyse Martin was gifted the Blackhawks’ second try on 60 minutes following a handling error on the Falcons’ own line, before Kelepi Tanginoa sealed the victory with Townsville’s fourth try, three minutes from full-time.
Woolf and his Blackhawks now turn their attention to securing the minor premiership, and more importantly, a first-week final in Australia.
“We’d much rather play in Townsville with a few thousand supporting us, rather than in PNG with 15,000+ all against us,” Woolf said.
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 20 (Zac Santo, Anthony Mitchell, Kelepi Tanginoa, Rhyse Martin tries; Robert Lui 2 goals) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 13 (Ben Hampton, Jacob Samoa tries; David Oakes 2 goals; Ben Hampton field goal) at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
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Sunshine Coast Falcons: 1. Sam Wright 2. Rowan Klein 3. Sam Young 4. Hymel Hunt 5. Travis Robinson 6. Ben Hampton 7. David Oakes 17. Jye Ballinger 20. Jon Platt 10. Ryan Hansen 11. Paul Ivan 12. Jacob Samoa 13. Tom Murphy (c) 14. Jay Lobwein 16. Mboya Adams 18. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs 19. Jaz Nahu-Main
Townsville Blackhawks: 18. Lenny Magey 2. Zac Santo 3. Tom Humble 4. Rhys Matsen 5. Samsen O’Neill 6. Robert Lui 7. Michael Parker-Walshe 8. Ricky Thorby 9. Anthony Mitchell 10. Daniel Beasley (c) 11. Noel Underwood 12. Kelepi Tanginoa 13. Neville Costigan 14. Ray Thompson 15. Corey Jensen 16. Lorenzo Ma’afu 17. Rhyse Martin