Norths Devils and Easts Tigers played out an enthralling 14-14 draw at Suzuki Stadium on Easter Saturday with neither side able to ‘get the chocolates’ after 80 minutes.
A week ago, the Tigers scored a 78th minute victory against the Mackay Cutters, however they could not repeat the effort this week as Norths held on for the draw.
The Tigers displayed great character to claim one point from the match as the Devils had the vast majority of the position and possession.
The Devils were much better in the first half and should have pushed themselves further ahead with the Tigers having spent the entire final 15 minutes of the half defending in their own 20m.
In his second game with the Tigers, winger Leon Ellia-Niukore opened the scoring in the third minute when a superb Brentt Warr cut-out pass found Michael Kai,who stood in the tackle of two Devils and cleverly off loaded to allow him to cross in the can bar corner. Billy Walters converted and it was 6-0 to the Tigers.
The Devils responded with tries to Maeli Seve in the 35th minute and David Faamita in the 38th minute, which along with a Todd Murphy conversion, gave them a well-deserved 10-6 lead at the break.
At halftime, Devils coach Mark Gliddon felt that with the amount of defending the Tigers were forced to do; they must tire and his team would hopefully “come home with a wet sail and get over them in the last 20”.
It very nearly proved to be the case with Murphy having the chance to slot a goal to claim the win as the hooter sounded in the background – only to have the kick waved away.
The Tigers struck early in the second half, just as they had done in the first half, with Luke Lavelle going 60m to score off a perfectly-worked scrum base move down the left edge. Walters converted again and the Tigers had taken the lead back 12-10.
For the next 10 minutes, the teams traded blows but neither were able to bother the scoreboard attendant before Murphy stepped up. He popped a lovely short ball for a hard-running Rhett Webster to score on the right and take the score to 14-12.
Murphy was the Devils best on the day, his general kicking was superb and he was at the heart of much of their attack. Young fullback Trae Clark also looked dangerous every time he ran with the ball and showed why he is so highly regarded on the northside.
For the Tigers, Jake Foster has another fantastic game, both with the ball in hand as well as the work he does off the ball.
Both teams had plenty of opportunities in the second half to win the game and the coaches will be talking to their players long and hard about closing out matches.
In the end, a Walters penalty goal in the 78th minute took the score to 14-14 and that was where it finished.
The Tigers will be sweating on the fitness of fullback Javarn White as they prepare for next weeks’ trip to Central Queensland. The new Tiger has been showing signs that he is working his way back to his best Cup form and has fast become a key component of the Tigers backline.
The Devils will return to Bishop Park to face the third-placed Burleigh Bears who got back in the winner circle this weekend and will provide a tough challenge in the Channel 9 TV game.
EASTS TIGERS 14 (Leon Ellia-Niukore, Luke Lavelle tries; Billy Walters 3 goals) drew with NORTHS DEVILS 14 (Maeli Seve, David Faamita, Rhett Webster tries; Todd Murphy goal) at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park.
Round 4 match reports