The Sunshine Coast fell just short of stealing a remarkable comeback win in Round 22 of the Intrust Super Cup; with the Easts Tigers holding on to secure an important 26-24 victory.
A big crowd was on hand for the Women in League round showdown between the Melbourne Storm’s two feeder clubs; but they were taken aback at halftime with the home side trailing 24-0 after the Tigers rolled through them to produce what would become a dominant opening half.
Both sides engaged in an ‘error-athon’ to start the match; prompting one loud and helpful fan to offer advice; yelling at them to "hold onto the ball".
And it was the Tigers who followed that advice early; building up sustained pressure with repeat sets with the ball to score first when Sam Kasiano – who was making his return from a posterior cruciate ligament injury – tucked himself into a ball and launched headlong into the uprights, just getting the ball down despite plenty of attention.
After earning a scrum and back-to-back penalties; the Tigers were in again when Brandon Smith went over to the right of the uprights.
The Falcons were unable to muscle up in defence on their own goal line in the first half, and forward Albert Vete was the next Tigers to capitalise, crossing over from a short run in the 27th minute.
The Tigers completed their dominant first-half performances when big centre Shane Neumann ran in their fourth try of the half after a strong run back inside.
While it was one-way traffic to the Tigers in the first half; the tide turned completely in the second, beginning with a try to Iliesa Ratuva in the 42nd minute.
They went back-to-back after a powerful run from Jye Ballinger set the play up for Harry Grant to kick ahead; with the ball finding Chris Lewis to score.
Their next try came in the 51st minute to Ryley Jacks – but it was all set up via a break down the left side from fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen who put in kick for his halfback to dive on.
They scored two more quick tries – with Grant lucky not to knock on a bouncing ball before picking it up to run in and score and a strong run from Thomas Eisenhuth after a scrum win.
In total, the Falcons scored five tries in the second half; but were only able to convert two of them.
The Tigers were able to break the deadlock when half Brodie Croft – who was able to slot all four conversion attempts – scored his sides’ only points of the second half, the match-winning goal in the 68th minute after the Falcons were penalised for a strip.
Next week, the Tigers will host the Souths Logan Magpies in Saturday's Channel 9 TV game; while the Falcons travel to Gladstone to play the Capras.
EASTS TIGERS 26 (Sam Kasiano, Brandon Smith, Albert Vete, Shane Neumann tries; Brodie Croft 5 goals) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 24 (Iliesa Ratuva, Christopher Lewis, Ryley Jacks, Harry Grant, Thomas Eisenhuth tries; Christopher Lewis 2 goals) at Sunshine Coast Stadium.