The QCCS Mackay Cutters claimed their biggest scalp of the season, defeating second-placed Sunshine Coast Falcons in a heart-stopping contest last night.
The Cutters fired out of the blocks, racing to a big halftime lead before withstanding a whirlwind comeback by the Falcons, clinging on to a 30-26 victory.
The Falcons were their own worst enemy in a horrendous opening quarter, with ill-discipline gifting Mackay excellent field position on multiple occasions.
Cutters skipper Andrew Davey made the visitors pay almost instantly, hitting a hole in the Sunshine Coast defence to score under the posts a mere two minutes into the contest.
Yamba Bowie was the next to score for the hosts, crossing out wide on a sweeping set play to the left flank, before Nicholas Brown chased down a Cooper Bambling grubber kick to the in-goal to have Mackay’s third try in 20 minutes.
The Falcons eventually mustered a response when Matthew Soper-Lawler caught the Cutters out on the overlap as he roped in a long cut-out pass.
However, the Falcons hard work came undone as they inexplicably dropped the ball cold right in front of their try line, with Nathan Saumalu instead scooping up the loose ball and crossing under the sticks to give Mackay a 24-4 halftime lead.
The Sunshine Coast were desperate to wrest momentum back in their favour for the second stanza, and it was Tui Kamikamica who got them started, crashing through the weary Cutters goal line defence off the back of a repeat set.
Soper-Lawler picked up his second try as he pounced on a long-range grubber kick to bring the visitors right back into the fight.
Bambling gave the Cutters some breathing room once more with a piece of individual brilliance; stabbing a grubber kick through and latching onto the ball as it rebounded off the leg of a Falcons defender before planting it down under the posts.
The Falcons showed they weren’t afraid to chance their arm, regathering a perfectly executed short kick off and working their way down field, as quick passing sent Samuel Wright across in the corner.
Jeremy Hawkins then caught the Cutters napping, scoring untouched with just minutes remaining.
The Falcons were left with one throw of the dice. Spreading the ball wide, they powered their way over the try line, seemingly breaking the hearts of the Mackay faithful as the fulltime siren sounded. However, they were ruled to have knocked the ball on, meaning Mackay escaped by the skin of their teeth.
Mackay coach Steve Sheppard was happy with his team, but stressed there was still improvements needed.
“I was happy with our first half and with our core, they really laid the platform for us,” he said. “When you finish poorly you usually start poorly, so we’ll need to buck that trend against Burleigh.
“Other results didn’t go our way tonight, but we’ve played well over the last eight weeks and all we can do is keep playing good and hopefully the footy gods look after us.”
MACKAY CUTTERS 30 (Andrew Davey, Yamba Bowie, Nicholas Brown, Nathan Saumalu, Cooper Bambling tries; Jack Joass 5 goals) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 26 (Matthew Soper-Lawler 2, Tui Kamikamica, Samuel Wright, Jeremy Hawkins tries; Guy Hamilton 3 goals) at BB Print Stadium, Mackay.