Redcliffe came into the match trying to keep their slim finals chance alive, but the Tigers extinguished their faint hopes with 32-22 win at Dolphin Oval yesterday.
While the Tigers impressed, they also had moments they would rather forget; with the Dolphins scoring two of their tries off Tigers dropped ball and ending the game well to fight back from 32-10 down to score the final two tries of the game.
Overall, the game was perhaps best summed up by Tigers forward Dayne Weston’s try in the 41st minute. Following good lead up work by his captain Tom Butterfield, he took the ball from dummy half and powered over to the left of the play-the-ball. There was nothing tricky or deceptive in his try, it was just one man who simply had more determination than the three defenders he ran over to score the try.
Richie Kennar scored the Tigers first try in the 12th minute off the back of crisp short passes in the backline. Donald Malone, celebrating his 50th game for the Tigers (and 177th Intrust Super Cup game overall) chimed in from fullback and despite having two defenders on him kept the ball alive for Mahe Fonua. He basketball-passed to his winger who dived over in the club house corner.
The Dolphins struck back four minutes later off a Tigers error and the ever-alert Marlon Doak picked it up and strolled 10m for what will probably be the easiest try he will ever score.
Much of the talk before the game had centred on the much-anticipated battle between two of the competitions toughest forward packs and the early exchanges lived up to the hype. Harley Aiono, Nick Ritter, Jon Green and the feisty Tyson Cleal took the game squarely to the Tigers; however they more than met their match in Liam McDonald, Francis Tualau and the rest of the Tigers pack. The Tigers have unbelievable depth and their bench was something to envy featuring Matt Zgrajewski, former Queensland Residents prop Mathew Pitman and Weston.
As much as the Tigers controlled the game played in front of the Channel 9 cameras; the Dolphins were their own worst enemy for much of the game with plenty of errors and penalties releasing any pressure they built on the Tigers.
However, the class of the Tigers was always going to win the day – helped by a XXXX man of the match performance by five-eighth Shaun Nona.
Last year’s Duncan Hall Medal winner put on a masterclass for the visitors, having a hand in several tries by providing the last pass or a deft kick – including one into the Dolphins’ in-goal which he chased down himself to score.
The Dolphins however did provided a number of moments of exciting football – especially from fullback Doak who scored a hat-trick. His speed across the field was hard to match and had the home crowd cheering.
The Tigers return home next weekend for what promises to be a blockbuster clash against arch rivals Wynnum Manly while the Dolphins will travel to Townsville to take on the top-of-the-table Blackhawks in the TV game.
EASTS TIGERS 32 (Mahe Fonua, Richard Kennar, Shaun Nona, Brentt Warr, Jake Foster, Dayne Weston tries; Shaun Nona 4 goals) def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 22 (Marlon Doak 3, Aaron Whitchurch tries; Luke Capewell 3 goals) at Dolphin Oval.
Redcliffe Dolphins: 1. Marlon Doak 2. Josh Beehag 3. Tom Opacic 4. Aaron Whitchurch 5. Curtis Johnston 6. John Brady 7. Luke Capewell (c) 8. Charlie Faingaa 9. Darcy Etrich 10. Jon Green 11. Nick Ritter 12. Harley Aiono 13. Tyson Cleal 14. Shane Pumipi 15. Joe Bradley 16. Tristan Lumley 17. Taylor Brown
Easts Tigers: 1. Donald Malone 2. Michael Kai 3. Shane Neumann 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Richard Kennar 6. Shaun Nona 19. Brentt Warr 8. Liam McDonald 9. Tommy Butterfield (c) 10. Francis Tualau 11. Christian Welch 12. Jake Foster 13. Troy Giess 14. Mathew Pitman 15. Matthew Zgrajewski 16. Dayne Weston 17. Billy Walters