The Townsville Blackhawks are hoping to bounce back from two straight losses when they face Easts Tigers at Jack Manski Oval in Round 11 of the Hastings Deering Colts. this Saturday (May 25).
Things are starting to tighten up in the competition as the top eight teams jostle for positions.
Last week in a close tussle between Townsville and Sunshine Coast at Jack Manski Oval, the boot of Tyson Smoothy proved the difference between the two sides which saw Sunshine Coast prevail with a 22-18 win.
The Blackhawks, who have had had six wins and only three losses are currently sitting fifth on the ladder, while Easts are close behind in seventh position.
The Tigers are coming off a 36-24 win against Tweed Seagulls and will go into the game with a boost in confidence.
Early in the second half a number of errors and penalties didn't help Townsville's cause, but they continued to press hard to make it a highly contested match.
A converted try by the Falcons in the 63rd mi
nute put their lead out to eight and although Townsville scored again with a late try to Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, a wayward conversion saw them fall short at fulltime.
Blackhawks coach David Elliott said he knew it was going to be a tough game as the Falcons were full of confidence after coming off a three game winning streak, saying they were one of the best teams his side have come up against.
He said while the team's effort and attitude were good; the Sunshine Coast did everything "just that bit better", but there were positives to take out of the game.
"We missed a few scoring opportunities, but this was something to build off," Elliott said.
After an extended period on the sideline due to injury, Townsville welcomed back their experienced captain Nathan Barratt who showed great leadership on the park.
"I was really impressed how the boys stuck together and stayed in the fight against a quality side, especially after they scored the first two tries and then we struck back with two quick tries just before halftime."
Elliott, who was previously a secondary school teacher, is in his first year of coaching the Under 20s which he is now doing on a fulltime basis.
He said at the start of the season, he had about half the squad from last year, but he has a group of young players who show great leadership and strength of character.
Now that the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup Under 18s season had finished, some of the top players from that division who can add strength and depth to his squad would move up to play in Under 20s ranks.
Townsville has brought eight players up from Under 18 ranks, including Griffin Neame who will be coming off the bench against Easts.
Elliott said this weekend the side would focus on the simple areas such as effort, first contact, discipline and he hoped everything else will fall into place.
"In the last two games we've leaked more points than we would have liked, so our emphasis is to get back to being one of the top defensive teams by denying our opposition points."
Match: Blackhawks v Tigers
Round 11 -
Venue: Jack Manski Oval
There has been a slight change to Townsville's line up with hooker Sam Murphy out with a dislocated and fractured ankle who will be replaced by Curtis Dempsey.
Tabuai-Fidow from Cairns is also out due to schoolboy rugby league duties, with Brodie Chaffey coming into the side as five-eighth with Daejarn Asi to move to fullback.
In other Round 11 games, current ladder leaders Burleigh Bears will host CQ Capras at Pizzey Park, Northern Pride are up against Tweed Seagulls at Vico Oval in Cairns, while Mackay Cutters have a home ground clash with Redcliffe Dolphins. The Ipswich Jets will take on Sunshine Coast Falcons at North Ipswich Reserve.
On Sunday, there are only two games with Norths Devils at home against Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Western Mustangs will face off with Souths Logan Magpies at Gold Park.