The QRL Media Year in Review series continues with Easts Tigers who enjoyed a solid year in 2018, booking themselves a spot in the grand final, after an amazing run of form in the finals series.
The Tigers finished the regular season in fifth place, before producing convincing victories over Northern Pride, Ipswich Jets and Burleigh Bears in their run to the grand final.
However, they suffered a narrow defeat in the decider at the hands of minor premiers Redcliffe Dolphins.
With the 2018 Intrust Super Cup season having drawn to a close, QRL Media have taken a look back through the year for all 14 clubs to see what went right, what went wrong and what the club are likely to focus on going forward into the 2019 season.
More Intrust Super Cup Year in Review series:
The remaining clubs will feature on QRL.com.au in coming weeks.
The Season By-The-Numbers:
Final Position on Ladder: 5th
Regular Season Win %:
- Won: 13
- Draw: 0
- Lost: 10
Home and Away Record:
- Home: 7-4
- Away: 6-6
- Scored: 576
- Conceded: 503
- F/A: 73
Players in Focus:
Standout Player: Scott Drinkwater
Try Assists: 24
Line Breaks: 21
Line Break Assists: 22
Tackle Breaks: 21
Average Run M: 133m
Notable Player Mentions: Billy Walters, Pat Kaufusi and Marion Seve
Highlight: Finals Week 2: Tigers defeat high flying Jets 50-20 in dominant display.
Notable Player Achievements:
- Scott Drinkwater: Intrust Super Cup Fullback of Year, NRL debut (Melbourne Storm), Cooper Cronk Feeder Club Player of the Year, XXXX Queensland Residents selection, Easts Tigers Players’ Player.
- Pat Kaufusi: Intrust Super Cup Second Rower of Year, XXXX Queensland Residents selection.
- Brandon Smith: NZ Kiwis selection and Melbourne Storm Rookie of the Year winner.
- Billy Walters: Intrust Super Cup Five-Eighth of Year and XXXX Queensland Residents selection.
- Chris Ostwald: Queensland Universities and Australian Universities selection.
- Marion Seve: XXXX Queensland Resident selection
- Brett Greinke: Easts Tigers Best forward 2018 winner
- Jarrod McInally: Easts Tigers Best Back 2018 winner
- Tom Butterfield: 200 Intrust Super Cup games
- Jack Svendsen: 100 Intrust Super Cup games
- Linc Port: 100 Intrust Super Cup games
Key Factor: Missed opportunities and injuries to key players
The Easts Tigers entered the Intrust Super Cup grand final off the back of a dominant run of finals victories including 32-0 victory over Northern Pride, 50-20 victory over Ipswich Jets and a 36-26 victory over Burleigh Bears.
Unfortunately for Easts, they couldn't continue their form on grand final day and suffered a narrow 14-point defeat at the hands of Redcliffe.
One contributing factor may have been fatigue. The Tigers entered the decider after three consecutive games, compared to minor premiers the Dolphins who had played one (13-6 victory over Burleigh in Week 2).
It seems the extra games could have taken their toll on Easts on the big day, with the Storm feeder club also succumbing to a number of injuries to key players including Billy Walters and Tom Butterfield. As a result, they had a number of missed opportunities in attack, and were not able to capitalise on their 54% share of possession.
Looking ahead 2019:
As they prepare for the new season, Easts have retained a number of key players including powerhouse forward Brett Greinke, and young-gun half Josh Ralph, along with club captain Jake Foster.
They also have recently announced the key additions of talented Newcastle Knights outside back Tom Hughes, powerhouse forward Sam Lavea, experienced dummy-half Aaron Booth and Canadian representative player Rhys Jacks and will again be a competitive side in 2019.