Earl injures knee again as Falcons soar in Bowen

Sandor Earl reaggravated a left knee injury in the only downside to Sunshine Coast Falcons' 40-18 rout of the Mackay Cutters in Bowen.

The first Intrust Super Cup game held in the picturesque Whitsunday coastline town of 10,000 started with three parachutists bringing the game ball to Denison Park.

Almost 12 hours of rugby league was played back-to-back to celebrate the 'Get in the Game' Country Week fixture, a huge feat for a city otherwise starved of senior football.

Typically Bowen hosts a maximum of three senior events per year, struggling to field teams in age groups from 13 upwards.

Yet it was a bonanza of league on a clear and warm day that drew a bumper crowd through the gate, and saw both the Cutters and Falcons doing their best to encourage talent in the region.

The match itself was barely three minutes old when Falcons hooker Harry Grant cleaned up a bomb that was allowed to bounce, lost in the bright sun and tricky wind by Cutters fullback Lachlan Coote.

By the time Early called for a trainer and limped off 21 minutes into the contest, the Sunshine Coast side had built a 16-6 lead.

Earl ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament last November and was expected to miss all of the 2018 season, but through diligent training was able to return ahead of schedule.

Coach Craig Ingebrigtsen said the latest injury wasn't of the same seriousness, however Earl immediately removed strapping from his leg and took no further part in the game.

There was another slight injury concern soon after Earl left the field, with half Ryley Jacks doubled up in pain, grabbing his lower back after being slammed to the turf.

Within a minute he regained his feet and pushed through to score a try, contributing to a 28-6 five-tries-to-one halftime lead for the southerners.

Ryley and brother Rhys played their first ever Intrust Super Cup game together, having grown up two years apart in juniors.

Ever-dangerous Matt Soper-Lawler had two tries at the break, while Ryan Papenhuyzen finished the match with a try and six goals, nailing some tough attempts in the challenging Coral Sea breeze.

Less than 50 seconds into the second half, substitute Lachlan Roe continued the deluge, crossing to drive the knife into the Cutters once more.

Yet another unwelcome blow came when Tui Kamikamica lurched off the field after a heavy tackle for a head injury assessment, spending the best part of half-an-hour out of the contest.

The remainder of the second stanza was a tighter affair and spectators stuck around afterwards to cheer on the Whitsunday Brahmans against the Moranbah Miners in the Mackay A Grade competition.

Based in Prosperpine, the Brahmans are playing two games this season in Bowen in another added boost for the town's rugby league faithful.

Aside from Earl, Jacks and Coote, several other well-known rugby league names were in attendance for the special event.

Former State of Origin player Chris Flannery participated in a game of touch football and mingled with the crowd, PNG sensation Justin Olam was one of the best on ground, while Jayden Hodges tried his heart out early for the Cutters.

Full scoring details and final official team lists available at QRL Live.

>> Yee-ha! Junior footy fun for Country Week

>> Whitsunday v Proserpine Women's Game

Next week the Sunshine Coast are going regional again, playing Northern Pride at Stafford Park, Hervey Bay on Saturday at 6pm.

Mackay has a long trip to the Piggabeen Complex for a 2pm Sunday game against Tweed Heads.

SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 40 (Matt Soper-Lawler 2, Harry Grant, Justin Olam, Ryley Jacks, Lachlan Roe, Ryan Papenhuyzen tries; Ryan Papenhuyzen 6 goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 18 (Blake Atherton, Nathan Saumalu, Nicholas Brown tries; Nicho Hynes 3 goals) at Denison Park, Bowen.