Tigers fans can thank Scott Drinkwater for their Round 2 win over a committed Mackay Cutters yesterday, with the Storm-contracted former Australian Schoolboy the difference between the two teams in the 26-24 win.
The fullback had a hand in a number of his side’s scoring plays, while his halves Brayden Torpy and Billy Walters also played a professional game; with Torpy controlling his team around the field, while the kicking game from Walters was superb.
However, it was the Cutters who opened the scoring when a lovely pass from Jardine Bobongie and quick hands from Yamba Bowie and Nathan Saumalu created just enough space for John Wilshire to dive over in the scoreboard corner.
Kyle Laybutt missed the difficult wide conversion and the Cutters had the early 4-0 lead.
They were in again 10 minutes later when young gun Mitch Dunn showed a potent combination of speed and footwork to step around a grasping Chris Ostwald to score beside the sticks. Laybutt did not miss this time and took the Cutters out to a 10-0 lead.
It took 23 minutes for the Tigers to find their feet, but when they did it, was worth the wait. Brett Greinke slipped a lovely offload to Drinkwater who straightened the attack and went to the line before flicking the ball to Conor Carey who was simply too big and strong for the Cutters.
The Tigers scored the try of the game in the 36th minute when Jarrod McInally finished a sweeping downfield move to score in the can bar corner. Drinkwater started the move 80m down field and Linc Port and Torpy continued the movement before the final pass. The conversion was waved away, and the teams went to the break locked at 10-10.
The second half was an all action affair with each team scoring three tries and the lead changing hands multiple times.
Jarred Tuite put his side in front in the 43rd minute and with Torpy slotting the conversion – the Tigers were leading for the first time in the game 16-10.
But the Cutters would not go away, and five minutes later, Laybutt scored after nice lead-up work by Bobongie had the Tigers defence reeling. His conversion tied the scores up again at 16-16.
The Cutters then took back the lead when Nathan Saumalu dotted down in the corner to finish off a spectacular backline move that included a returning Josh Chudleigh, Dunn and Bowie.
Crucially Laybutt missed another wide conversion to leave the score at 20-16.
The seesawing nature of the game continued when Jack Svendsen ran a sublime line off Drinkwater, to hit the hole hard and fast to score without a hand being laid on him. Torpy landed the conversion and the Cutters’ short-lived lead was gone as the Tigers went up 22-20.
The home side scored one more try in the 72nd minute, fittingly via Drinkwater who combined with Ostwald for a blindside trick play that fooled the defence to take the score to 26-20.
But this cliff-hanger was not done though, with big Johnny Faletagoa'i brilliantly grounding a Bowie kick to score in the corner in the 79th minute.
Unfortunately for Cutters fans, the sideline conversion was waved away and the Tigers held on for the 26-24 win.
Round 3 sees both teams at home for Saturday night home games, with the Tigers up against the Ipswich Jets and the Cutters hosting the CQ Capras.
EASTS TIGERS 26 (Conor Carey, Jarrod McInally, Jarred Tuite, Jack Svendsen, Scott Drinkwater tries; Brayden Torpy 3 goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 24 (Kurt Wilshire, Mitchell Dunn, Kyle Laybutt, Nathan Saumalu, Johnny Faletagoa’i tries; Kyle Laybutt 2 goals) at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park.
*Matt Crowhurst is a QRL correspondent