A big crowd, ferocious defence and exciting debuts. This may have been Round 1, and there was all of the 'ring rust' you would expect in a Round 1 game played in 31 degrees, however there was also plenty to keep the crowd entertained as the Easts Tigers defeated the Mackay Cutters 24-12 at Langlands Park.
The Cutters opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Ross Bella pounced on a lovely Jack Hickson grubber, Carlin Anderson converted and they led 6-0.
The Cutters looked good for extended periods in the game, running straight and hard, setting up their plays well and generally executing them well, if without luck.
Curtis Dansey-Smaller scored his first try in Tigers colours in the 27th minute when he finished of a well executed scrum play with a lovely step inside to leave his marker grasping.
Aaron Booth's kick was off line and the Cutters held onto a 6-4 lead; it seems likely that will not be the last time we see that particular play in 2019.
Booth, another player on debut, was amongst the Tigers best and went a long way to assuaging concerns about the loss of Tom Butterfield; he was part of a Tigers forward pack that looked very strong.
Booth, along with fellow new recruit Bennett Leslie combined with Brett Greinke and Jarred Tuite to lay an impressive platform.
Greinke burst down field in the 30th minute in a 20m burst than included powerful running and two sidesteps.
One minute later Tuite, also displaying strength and evasion, burst over the line to score. The attempted conversion was away however the Tigers had their first lead of the game, 8-6.
Match: Tigers v Cutters
Round 1 -
Venue: Langlands Park
The Cutters had had a strong first half, with Jack Hickson, Reuben Cotter and Bella all impressive, and only trailing by two points were very much in the game. However a 49th minute try to Man of the Match Booth started to turn the tide in the Tigers favour.
The middle of the second half saw the game lose some of its shape and errors started to creep in.
Tigers skipper Jake Foster scored a typical rampaging try down the left edge to essentially seal the win for his team in the 66th minute; with Sam Foster converting to take their lead to 18-6.
The game was held up by a long injury break to luckless Mackay fullback Carlin Anderson, who left the field on a stretcher and his teammates lifted noticeably after his departure and definitely took the game to the Tigers.
However a 66th minute try, to yet another debutant Tom Hughes, definitively put the game beyond the Cutters reach.
It was the Cutters who had the 'last laugh' though with Cooper Bambling dashing over from dummy half in the 76th minute; Yamba Bowie slotted the conversion and the final score was 24-12.
Both coaches will find positives and negatives when they review their teams points.
Scott Sipple will be very happy with the two competition points along with the performance of many of his debutants and in particular the work of Booth, Leslie and Tuite.
Cutters coach Stephen Sheppard will be happy with the was his team executed their plans in periods and will know if they can do that for longer periods in game they will be in for a much more successful season in 2019.
Next weekend sees the Tigers play a rare night game at Bishop Park.
Match: Devils v Tigers
Round 2 -
Venue: Bishop Park
The Cutters head home to BB Print Stadium to take on the Souths Logan Magpies.
Match: Cutters v Magpies
Round 2 -
Venue: BB Print Stadium Mackay