The Sunshine Coast Falcons fielded arguably their strongest line-up of the 2019 season - including Melbourne Storm's Curtis Scott - for their Round 8 clash with Mackay Cutters at Sunshine Coast Stadium tonight.
The first 21 minutes of the match remained scoreless in an accurate representation of the solid defence on display from both sides.
Momentum continually swung between both teams, however first points came to the Falcons when a Cooper Johns pass found Joe Stimson, who crossed the line for four points.
After a Todd Murphy conversion, the home side sported a 6-0 lead.
Six minutes later Harry Grant showed just why he is atop the Petero Civoneciva Medal tally after scooting and stepping his way for 20 metres to score under the posts.
Another Murphy conversion and the score became 12-0.
The Falcons looked set to increase their lead when Tino Fa'asuamaleui was held up in goal in the 32nd minute, however a kick out on the full gave the Cutters the boost they needed.
Dan Russell crossed for the Cutters two minutes later to put their first points on the board, however a missed conversion left the score at 12-4.
The Cutters looked set to score again with a minute left on the clock, however pulled up two metres short and the score remained unchanged heading into the break.
A half-time pep talk from Falcons coach Eric Smith seemed to be the only motivation his side needed as they came into the second half firing.
“The message was pretty simple - we needed to lift our chat and get more kick pressure," Smith said.
"They’re a tough footy side and they weren’t going down without a fight.”
Match: Falcons v Cutters
Round 8 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
Ryan Papenhuyzen kicked and regathered to score just two minutes into the second half, with another Murphy conversion increasing the lead to 18-4.
The tides looked to turn for the Cutters when a Falcons mistake from the kick-off in their own in-goal area gave the visitors a chance to strike.
The Cutters failed to convert the field position into points, and Fa’asuamaluei crossed the paint for the Falcons in the 48th minute from a Grant short-ball.
The visitors were offered a reprieve in the 64th minute after they were awarded repeat sets on the opposition's try line; this converted into points for the Cutters when Yamba Bowie crossed to bring the score to 24-10.
A Carlin Andersen field-goal shortened the gap to 24-10 with 15 minutes to play.
With pride and points on the line, things got heated in the 78th minute and Cutters were awarded a penalty.
Once again the visitors were unable to convert position into points, and the Falcons put the icing on the cake when Sandor Earl crossed the line from a Nicho Hynes kick.
There was another Murphy conversion and the match ended with a 30-10 score line.
Smith said he was proud of his troops, however said the score line was certainly not an accurate representation of the game.
“It was tough," Smith said.
"They’re a good football team; they’re going to start knocking off some teams... where they sit on the ladder doesn’t do them justice.”
The win was the eighth straight for the Falcons line-up, however they aren’t getting complacent.
“Teams are going to come at us," Smith said.
"There are things we do well but things we need to improve; we’re still growing and improving as a team.
"There are still teams we haven’t played yet and teams we have played that have improved out of sight since.
"There’s still a long way to go yet."
Falcons face Souths Logan Magpies in Round 9.
Match: Magpies v Falcons
Round 9 -
Venue: Davies Park, Brisbane
Cutters will take on Northern Pride.
Match: Cutters v Pride
Round 9 -
Venue: BB Print Stadium Mackay, Mackay