Souths Sunnybank’s dreams of making this year’s Grand Final remain very much alive, after just scraping home over a Mt Gravatt Eagles side that refused to give in, running out winners 24-12 on Saturday at Mansfield’s Allan Innes Field.
Sitting in third place behind Bulimba Valley’s and front-runners Beenleigh Seniors, the Magpies are snapping at the heels of the current leaders on the points table in what was an important win for the Black and Whites.
In a drama-filled first half where one Eagles player had to be taken away in an ambulance, the Magpies looked out of sorts early on as the home side were throwing everything at the visitors in a spirited display.
Show of force
However, in the sixth minute, powerful Sunnybank winger David Graft used his strength to force his way over in the corner for the first try of the afternoon, beating two would-be defenders.
Shortly after the Magpies lost possession from the restart, the Eagles looked dangerous 20m out and in some individual brilliance from Aminiasi Meo, the barnstorming forward hurtled himself into the Magpies defence and thundered over to score.
As the Magpies regrouped, the show was being run by Sunnybank hooker Jake Wong and halfback Dean Weller, who were inching closer to the Eagles tryline.
From a set move off the scrum, the Magpies nearly went in again right on the stroke of halftime through centre Shaun Cotter, only to be stopped by the Eagles’ Erik Moore and Michael Dodi with the scoreboard having the Magpies ahead by only two points.
Sunnybank though looked more of a threat in the second half. Hooker Wong and Weller were stepping it up a gear for the visitors, whilst hulking forwards Bruce Stuart and Kollossus Tuaafiafi-Iutoi were making some good metres up the middle.
It was after some good field position that Sunnybank crossed again. Replacement Taku Hall split the tired Eagles defence in two and stormed over to increase the lead to 14-6.
However, Mt Gravatt were not done yet. Prop Tyler Tavalea accepted probably the pass of the match from halfback Dodi to go over untouched beside the sticks.
With lock Ricky Biles landing the gift shot at goal, the Eagles were down but not out.
The next 10 minutes would see both sides trying everything to edge the score out in their favour. Mt Gravatt’s Barney Tiki Tiki and halfback Dodi were exceptional in a losing side. Dodi’s experience was on show as he was easily a standout for the home side.
But, the Magpies had more points in them and they showed that little extra composure. It was in the 29th minute, winger Graft again used his strength to finish off a faultless backline movement that saw the gun flanker crash in to score his second try of the afternoon.
There were precisely 34 seconds left on the clock and within a blink of an eye Magpies centre Cotter had his tail up and motored towards the tryline to complete an excellent try for the visitors and walk away with the much-needed two points.
Final score: Sunnybank Magpies 24 def Easts Mt Gravatt Eagles 12.