The Townsville Blackhawks broke the hearts of the QCCS Mackay Cutters at BB Print Stadium last night, kicking a penalty goal after the fulltime siren to end the game in a 20-20 draw.
Despite a markedly improved performance from the Round 3 drubbing by their northern rivals, the Cutters couldn’t edge the Blackhawks and fell agonisingly short of claiming their first ever victory over the Townsville franchise.
Mackay got off to the perfect start as a penalty on the first set of the game had them in attacking range, and a silky short-side play saw captain Andrew Davey deliver a neat pass to Jordan Pereira to get the Cutters on the board first.
Townsville opted for the power approach as they responded, Oshae Tuiasau latching onto a short-ball and crashing through the Cutters goal line defence, as precise goal kicking pushed his team into the lead.
Mackay looked to take charge of the contest midway through the half, forcing consecutive dropouts to put pressure on the visitors. A perfect set-play had Johnny Faletagoa’i racing over to score as the ball swept wide to the left flank, and minutes later, Yamba Bowie was also on the try-scorers list as Mackay produced a carbon-copy play out to the right.
A raft of penalties saw the Blackhawks with possession and momentum back in their favour, and they eventually cracked the tackle-weary Mackay defence when Jonathan Reuben grounded a grubber kick to the in-goal to get the visitors level.
Mackay once again gained the ascendency when Pereira poked through the Blackhawks defensive line and got a brilliant offload back to his support player in Cooper Bambling, with the crafty halfback scampering under the posts.
But Townsville refused to go away, and with halftime approaching; the Blackhawks scored a crucial try as Ross Bella powered his way through Mackay’s goal line defence to send the teams into the halftime break knotted at 18-18.
The second half saw both teams fighting to break the deadlock. Townsville peppered the Cutters line with aerial raids and deft grubber kicks, but scrambling defence kept the visitors out; while at the other end, Bowie’s attempt at getting the Cutters in front was denied by inches as the Blackhawks cover defence got to him just in time.
A high tackle in front of the posts was the invitation the Cutters needed to take the back control of the contest and Nicho Hynes coolly slotted the attempt to nudge the hosts into the lead.
Townsville threw everything they had at the defence as Mackay desperately clung to their advantage.
But as the fulltime siren sounded, the Cutters were pinged for an infringement, leaving Carlin Anderson with a penalty goal attempt from the left touchline.
With the biggest Mackay crowd of the season jeering him over his shoulder, Anderson calmly guided his sideline conversion straight over the black dot to get the Blackhawks out of jail, and salvage a single competition point.
MACKAY CUTTERS 20 (Jordan Pereira, Johnny Faletagoa’i, Yamba Bowie, Cooper Bambling tries; Nicho Hynes 2 goals) drew with TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 20 (Oshae Tuiasau, Jonathon Reuben, Ross Bella tries; Carlin Anderson 4 goals) at BB Print Stadium, Mackay.