High-scoring draw provides spectacle
The effect of this astonishing game could perhaps be understood by watching the crowd’s faces after fulltime.
Emotionally drained, the supporters were incredulous as Easts Juniors and Easts Carina played out an incredible 40-40 draw in front of a healthy crowd at Leo William Oval Carina.
Nobody could believe the see-sawing game that had just taken place with the lead changing on numerous occasions.
Mathematically scoring a point a minute, the 80 point haulage of points takes nothing away from both teams being in Premier grade as the standard was definitely not substandard by any means, more so both teams producing a spectacle for anybody that was at the ground.
After a ferocious opening 10 minutes, defensively you could not split these two sides. The feeling out process was bone-jarring if not downright ferocious.
However, it took Easts Juniors five-eighth Tommy Tummaga to latch onto hooker Isiah Panuve superb cut-out pass to cross for the first try besides the posts.
Easts, boasting fullback Brandon Downey, a former Intrust Super Cup player with the Easts Tigers, made no mistake with the easy conversion to see the Tigers leading 6-0.
It would be Downey however who was next to score for Easts as his experience saw him go in easily outwide to extend the Tigers lead.
Carina made the Tigers pay though when Easts dropped the ball from five metres out from their line, which saw a clever scrumbase move that saw centre Maua Logoaia go in to put Carina on the board.
Sadly for the home side, the containment of outstanding Easts five-eighth Tummaga was proving difficult. Tuumaga was near unstoppable in this game and his second try was textbook with a side stepping showstopper that saw him go in under the posts.
A coach’s nightmare from the restart saw the Tigers spill the pill from the kick off and the ball was gladly swooped on by Carina centre Toby Burke who couldn’t believe his luck with daylight in front of him to see Carina nudge back at 18-12.
Downey sent the ball dead from the kick-off that saw Carina awarded a penalty on the halfway mark and within two tackles had crossed again from a lovely Mark Potts pass that saw workaholic hooker Shane Leyden barge his way over.
In a case of déjà vu, the exact same set play started by Potts, saw Carina go in again right on the stroke of halftime.
Leyden again barrelled his way under the Easts defence to now see the home side hit the lead for the first time.
It didn’t take long for the scores to be level again as Easts raced into score just after the interval to see the scoreline at 24-24 in what can be described as a tit-for-tat game. The match ebbed and flowed throughout.
The defence of this game was superior. Easts led by Adam Crear, Lifau Hala and Kurt Hatfield were rock solid.
But as the Tigers were making good inroads up the middle, some fundamental handling errors started to creep in to their game and Carina took advantage of the good field position which saw them go in once again through Mark Potts who was in everything in this second half.
Easts replied shortly after with another try this time through halfback Simon Fairburn and again the scoreline was level pegging at 28-28.
Carina were served best by Potts, Heyden and Vaasa, but even these standout players could not control Easts next try when hooker Panuve split the defence up the middle and found Adam Crear in support who went in to score a fantastic Tigers try.
Soon after, a brilliant cut out ball from Easts Punave saw second rower Crear go in for a well-deserved second try under the sticks to see the Tigers back in the lead once more.
The Tigers however fell asleep defensively and with four minutes on the clock, Carina did the unthinkable and made it back into the Tigers quarter.
With Potts running the show he made a brave choice in throwing a cut out pass that paid off to see towering prop Luey Tullage crash over to score.
David Browne kicking the conversion to see both teams again level at 40-40.
With 30 seconds on the clock it was a pulsating finish. The Tigers had ended up with the ball and with the last tackle on the last play of the game, the ball was sent back to Downey who booted a wobbly field goal attempt that went just under the crossbar to seal a dramatic draw in a dramatic game.
Full Time: Easts Juniors 40 drew Easts Carina 40