It’s one of the most overused cliches in sports and it has rarely applied as aptly as it did on Sunday, when the Easts Tigers beat the Norths Devils 40-16 in a game of two halves at Bishop Park, north Brisbane.
The teams traded attacking opportunities in an action-packed first-half that saw them go to the sheds with the scores locked at 10-10. The Devils were probably unlucky not to lead at the break having thrown plenty at a rock-solid Tigers defence that repeatedly denied them.
It was the Tigers who opened the scoring, in 21st minute, when Whetu Austin cleverly batted back a Brentt Warr kick for Dane Chang to score. The Devils responded in the next set with Todd Murphy drifting across the field to link with second-rower Harry Pondekas who in turn passed to Shaun Carney for the quick catch and pass to put Maeli Seve over in the right corner.
The Devils lifted once they had scored and were in again in the 36th minute when Sean Yorston put on a precision pass for a hard-running Luke Pollock to score. Murphy converted, as he did all day, to take the score to 10-6.
However, the Tigers were not done. Tom Butterfield sparked them in the last set of the half, linking with makeshift half Luke Lavelle who found Whetu Austin with just enough space to set Dane Chang free for his second try in the right corner and take the halftime score to 10-10.
The match remained deadlocked for the first 14 minutes of the second half, though the Tigers’ second-phase play - thanks to offloads from Matt White, Matt Zgrajewski and XXXX Man of the Match Jake Foster were starting to wear the Devils defence down. The Devils were missing a number of key players due to injury and suspension and their experience was missed as the game wore on.
In the 54th minute the Tigers finally exploded, big runs by Chang, fellow winger Leon Ellia-Niukore, Tom Butterfield and Jamie Anderson had the defence reeling. Warr found Foster who, running wide where he is his most dangerous, off-loaded for Jacob Paul to score.
Warr then did what he does best, running with the ball in hand and stepping to mesmerise defences. He scored and converted his own try to extend the Tigers lead to 22-10.
Trio of tries
This Tigers team are far too experienced and disciplined to give up a lead like that and tries to Matt White, Butterfield and Javarn White followed in quick succession as the Tigers romped away with the match. Along with Foster and Warr, the Tigers big wingers and Tom Butterfield were all superb and must have given the man of the match selectors much to think about.
Jai Arrow, Carney and Murphy were all strong for the Devils with Arrow in particular making plenty of metres with the ball in hand. Murphy’s kicking game, when he got the chance to use it, was top class and he showed why is back in the Broncos set-up.
Pretty to watch
Murphy had the final say when he bobbed up to create an extra man in attack. He took the ball, straightened, ran and scored. He also slotted the conversion to take the final score to 40-16.
EASTS TIGERS 40 (Dane Chang 2, Jacob Paul, Jake Foster, Matthew White, Tommy Butterfield, Javarn White tries; Brentt Warr 6 goals) def NORTHS DEVILS 16 (Maeli Seve, Luke Pollock, Todd Murphy tries; Todd Murphy 2 goals) at Bishop Park.