Sunshine Coast coach Craig Ingebrigtsen has cast aside clichés to say that a 24-10 victory against the PNG Hunters showed his team had learnt from their 2017 Intrust Super Cup grand final defeat.
While many modern day coaches are reluctant to reference past grand finals and their relation to contemporary performances, Ingebrigtsen was happy to offer a comparison from the Round 3 effort.
“In the grand final last year we got 10 points in front and stopped doing what we were good at,” admitted the Falcons mentor.
“We’re a team that plays well when we move the ball around well and asks questions on the edges.
“Today we actually played a bit of footy.”
In the rematch – a highlight of XXXX Rivalry Round - the Falcons jumped out to a 24-0 lead at Bokarina, before PNG saved face with two late tries to Nixon Putt and Wartovo Puara.
Making his first appearance for Sunshine Coast this season, half Ryley Jacks was first to score in the 13th minute, a fortnight after scoring for the Melbourne Storm in Round 1 of the NRL.
Further converted tries to Jake Ainsworth and Matt Soper-Lawler had the home side up 18-0 at halftime.
When Jye Ballinger crossed just two minutes into the second half, it threatened to be a blowout against a Hunters side that has struggled to click in the opening rounds.
However, it wasn’t all one way traffic and Ingebrigtsen was keen to point out his men were forced to defend five repeat sets, showing a willingness to put shoulders in front of the hard-running PNG side.
The Sunshine Coast coach gave special mention to hooker Harry Grant.
“I thought for a 20-year-old playing in the middle of the ruck, he was outstanding,” Ingebrigtsen said.
A Yeppoon Seagulls junior and graduate of St Brendan’s College, Grant was the captain of the Melbourne Thunderbolts last year in the National Youth Competition.
He was also named player of the competition by the Rugby League Players’ Association.
Last December, he attracted national headlines when he helped save two women struggling in surf at Port Macquarie on Christmas Eve.
Next week Sunshine Coast plays Easts at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park in the 1.10pm televised Saturday Channel 9 (QLD) match.
The Hunters host Tweed Heads at the National Football Stadium at 3pm on Easter Sunday.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 24 (Ryley Jacks, Jake Ainsworth, Matta Soper-Lawler, Jye Ballinger tries; Matt Soper-Lawler 4 goals) def PNG HUNTERS 10 (Nixon Putt, Wartovo Puara tries; Ase Boas goal) at Sunshine Coast Stadium.