The Mackay Cutters were two minutes away from recording the upset of the season – but a late Jonus Pearson try meant Redcliffe were able to salvage a 16-16 draw in their Round 21 clash.
The Cutters found their feet early in the game at Dolphin Stadium and they were looking to show the home side they weren’t going down without a fight. However, the Dolphins composure in defence proved too strong, stopping the Cutter’s early attempts.
It wasn’t until the 24th minute that the first points of the night were scored, through Redcliffe captain Cameron Cullen, who was able to slice through the Cutters defence from close range.
The away side were quick to answer with a try of their own in the 29th minute to prop Jordan Grant (pictured below), who was able to find a hole in Redcliffe’s tight defence.\
The low-scoring first half saw the home side take a two-point advantage into the main break – something Dolphins coach Adam Mogg credits to their defence.
“Defensively, I thought we were pretty good, a couple of one-on-one misses cost us points, but the reality is, we were not good enough with the ball,” Mogg said.
“I’m really happy with how we’re going defensively, but we’re not good enough with the footy.”
Redcliffe started the second half with a point to prove – playing with more aggression when running the ball and turning up for each other in defence.
The end-to-end football continued until the 62nd minute, when the Cutters were able to score through lock Bennett Leslie, who was able to capitalise on a Dolphins lapse in defence.
It wasn’t long before the Cutters were in again, posting back-to-back tries to score in the 66th minute, again through Leslie who got his second of the night.
However, the home side went in three minutes later after a short kick-off from the Dolphins paid off, with lock Jamil Hopoate crossed in the 69th minute. It came off the back of a strong run by Sam Anderson who was key to mounting the Dolphins comeback.
Some creative play from Cullen on the fifth – finding space for his winger Pearson to muscle his way over in the corner – levelled up the scores and it seemed the Cutters would again lose a close match by two points.
However, the difficult sideline conversion from Bryce Donovan was unsuccessful and meant the teams shared the points at fulltime.
Mogg praised is side’s efforts defensively, particularly his players through the middle.
“I thought Sam Anderson’s first stint was outstanding tonight, he really set the standard for the rest of the boys,” Mogg said.
Next week, the Dolphins head to Townsville to play the Blackhawks who are still at the top of the table, despite their loss to the Devils today, in a game Mogg knows the team has to lift for.
“We play the premiership favourites in Townsville, so we need to go up two levels before next weekend. They’ve just come off a loss, so it’ll be a ‘ding-dong’ battle for us,” he said.
The Cutters will face the Northern Pride at BB Print Stadium Mackay on Saturday night in a North Queensland derby.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 16 (Cameron Cullen, Jamil Hopoate, Jonus Pearson tries; Bryce Donovan 2 goals) drew with MACKAY CUTTERS 16 (Bennett Leslie 2, Jordan Grant tries; Nicho Hynes 2 goals) at Dolphin Stadium.
*Emily Clooney is a QRL correspondent covering the Redcliffe Dolphins