The Mackay Cutters fought back to force an exciting 22-22 draw against the Redcliffe Dolphins in their Hastings Deering Colts match tonight.
Played in front of a growing crowd at 1300SMILES Stadium as a curtain-raiser to the Cowboys v Titans NRL game; the young players pushed each other right to the final siren.
At the start of the match, it was a back-and-forth opening where Mackay held much of the upper hand, and they were able register the afternoon's first points when fullback Jayden O'Shannessy went over after nine minutes in the left-hand-side. Brendan White successful conversion had them in front 6-0.
However, the Phins hit back when a Radean Robinson kick earned the Dolphins a line drop-out and they were able to capitalise with corresponding fullback Sam Armstrong cutting through a gap in the line after some nice passing gave him some space. The conversion attempt from out wide was waved away.
The 'home' side were pushing hard to extend their lead and with nine minutes left in the half, they had worked their way back up the field after a scrum win and strong run from centre Jacob Schill. However, despite finding their way over in the right-hand corner, the Phins defence did enough to force the ball loose and gain a turnover.
Redcliffe's hard work was later rewarded when with a minute and a half to go before the break, Regan Baker proved too speedy out the right after his team got him the ball from a scrum win within 20m of their attacking zone.
This time, the conversion from Oscar Carter after the halftime was successful and the Phins had a 10-6 lead at the break.
The Dolphins came out firing to start the second half and displayed some strong defence, to force a line drop-out. But the Cutters were up to the task and were able to withstand their raid down their right side and were relieved when the Phins knocked out with the line in sight.
A clever little kick from Kyle Foxwell who grubbered in under the right upright was chased by Armstrong for his second. Carter again converted and the SEQ locals led 16-6 with just over 25 minutes left to play.
They were in again soon after when Jake Sparey was part of the pack of chasers who pressured a knock on from winger Will Paki after a high kick and was on hand to scoop up the loose ball.
With the lead now a comfortable 22-6 with Carter's third kick, Redcliffe relaxed – but that let Mackay back into the game. Forward Ryan Schill started the charge when he was the first to touch down on a ball to give the Cutters their second try to trail 22-10.
The fightback continued when O'Shannessy was over with 15 minutes remaining; going over after some hard running and desperation from his team-mates got them in good position. White's boot was true for the conversion and they trailed 22-16.
They had three in a row – and O'Shannessy his hat-trick – when he produced some fancy footwork at the line before diving under defenders to make it a grandstand finish.
Scores were locked at 22-22 with just over five minutes to go with White's conversion sailing over the black dot.
It was frantic and end-to-end football as the clock wound down, with desperate defence forcing turnovers from both sides – and a Redcliffe field goal attempt was charged down by the Cutters.
In the end, the points were shared in a fitting result from a seesawing game.
Mackay Cutters 22 (Jayden O'Shannessy 3, Ryan Schill tries; Brendan White 3 goals) drew with Redcliffe Dolphins 22 (Sam Armstrong 2, Regan Baker, Jack Sparey tries; Oscar Carter 3 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium