In what coach Scott Sipple described as his team’s best 80 minutes of the season, Easts put together a clinical display to down the Cutters 34-10 at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park yesterday afternoon.
Having been down 10-0 against the Sunshine Coast a week ago, the Tigers were determined to start better this week and captain Jake Foster was heavily involved early as he led from the front and made plenty of metres down the left edge.
They got their reward in only the second minute when a sweeping backline movement saw Shane Neumann score. It started with a running Billy Walters linking with Gerard McCullum who timed his incision into the backline perfectly, before slipping away a sublime pass to Jarrod McInally who held off the defence before passing to left edge partner Neumann who crashed over to score.
It was PNG test hooker Tommy Butterfield doing it all himself for the Tigers second try in the 18th minute. He benefited from a quick play-the-ball from Jack Svendsen 10m out and scythed to the line. Brayden Torpy slotted the conversion and the Tigers led 10-0.
Mackay had limited opportunities in the first half with the Tigers completing their sets 90% of the time and forcing the Cutters to drop out from their own goal line repeatedly.
They hit back in the 23rd minute though through Nicho Hynes, who was one of their best, with his kicks often precise and well chosen. It was his running game though that created this try.
Walters shot off his line to shut Hynes down, however could not make the tackle and Hynes exploded into the gap. The Tigers defenders held back waiting for another kick, however he sprinted for the line and scored untouched to bring the score to 10-4.
The Tigers third try came after a beautiful team effort saw the ball flow from Walters to Torpy, McCullum, Conor Carey and finally Linc Port to score in the right-hand corner.
Torpy slotted another conversion and the Tigers took a 16-4 lead into the break.
It was the Torpy and McCullum show in the second half as they combined for two tries, firstly in the 43rd minute and again minutes later after Torpy sent the ball on the inside to McCullum who was lurking with intent and scored.
The teams traded tries late in the game, with 100-game man McInally pulling in a high bomb to score for the Tigers last try before Lona Kaifoto barged over for a consolation try for the Cutters.
The Cutters are to professional to look for excuses; though they did have a horror trip to Brisbane with flight diversions due to the heavy fog taking them away from Brisbane to the Gold Coast and back up to Rockhampton before making their way back down for the game at 5am on Saturday morning.
On the field, the Tigers best was McCullum however they had no bad players; with Torpy and Neumann also very good.
For the Cutters, Hynes, Jack Joass and Braden Uele tried hard all day while Bambling showed signs of how dangerous he could be.
Next weekend promises a blockbuster between the Tigers and the Ipswich Jets at Suzuki Stadium, while the Cutters will be back at home to take on the Capras.
EASTS TIGERS 34 (Gerard McCallum 2, Shane Neumann, Tommy Butterfield, Linc Port, Jarrod McInally tries; Brayden Torpy 3, Billy Walters, Jarrod McInally goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 10 (Nicho Hynes, Lona Kaifoto tries; Jack Joass goal) at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park.