Easts Tigers defied some major setbacks to outpoint the CQ Capras in the second half on their way to securing a 36 -24 win.
With the game in the balance at 18-18 at break, Easts suffered what could have been a series of devastating blows. Mark Nicholls left the game after halftime, Jack Svendsen was taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw and Charlie Galo was limping badly with a knee injury.
Tigers coach Scott Sipple’s message was simple – he asked his players to forget it all, concentrate on ball security and do what they had trained to do.
His speech had exactly the desired effect as his men did just that, taking down the spirited Capras side who had shown spark all afternoon.
Earlier in the day, the Capras had opened the scoring in the second minute when Oliver Percy scored what will likely be the easiest try of his career after he took the ball one off the ruck and ran straight at the defensive line. Tony Tumusa converted for the 6-0 lead.
The Tigers scored next when fullback Gerard McCullum straightened the attack and then cut back inside to finds open space to link with Brodie Croft, who was trailing behind to score behind the posts. Billy Walters converted to make it 6-6.
They were at it again a few minutes later when a Tom Butterfield grubber sat up nicely just inside the dead ball line and Walters was the man on the spot to touch the ball down. He also converted his own try to give the Tigers the lead for the first time 12-6.
The seesawing nature of the first half continued when Krys Freeman scored for the Capras in the next set after the Tigers lost the ball. He ran from dummy half and found a yawning gap for him to run through and Tumusa stepped up to level the score again at 12-12.
Butterfield set up the next try after he took a short pass from Svendsen and burst through the line. He then found Nicholls rampaging up the middle of the field and sent him on his way to the tryline. Walters converted and the Tigers had snatched back the lead 18-12.
In the shadows of halftime, Capras fullback Maipele Morseau ensured his team would have the last say of the half when he drew the Tigers defence to the grandstand touchline before passing back on the inside to hard-running centre Justin Tavae who beat the closing defenders to the line.
The Capras opened the second half with try that was a carbon copy of their one before the break, with Morseau again putting Tavae in to score. However, that would be the end of their scoring for the night as the Tigers held on to the ball and their depleted forward pack began to overcome their opposition.
The next try went to Young Tonumaipe’a as he swooped on a perfectly-positioned Croft grubber to score in the corner. Croft was the provider again for the next try, taking the ball at first receiver and laying on a precision pass to McCullum who hit the hole at pace to score in the corner.
Butterfield had a magnificent game and all his skill and experience to set up the McCullum for his second. Butterfield scooped up the ball from dummy half, beat the markers and then burst 35m down field before grubbering back towards the posts where his fullback won the race for the ball.
Two of the Tigers senior heads got together to create the final try of the night with prop Steven Thorpe picking up a loose ball before sending the ball wide to fellow veteran Shane Neumann who was too fast for his marker and scorer in the can bar corner to take the final score to 36-24.
EASTS TIGERS 36 (Gerard McCallum 2, Brodie Croft, Billy Walters, Mark Nicholls, Young Tonumaipe’a, Shane Neumann tries; Billy Walters 4 goals) def CQ CAPRAS 24 (Justin Tavae 2, Oliver Percy, Krys Freeman tries; Tony Tumusa 4 goals) at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park.