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Falcons back in the winner's circle

In a display that was far from their best the Sunshine Coast Falcons found their way back to the winner’s circle with a 9 tries to 1 win over the Northern Pride. However, the final score failed to accurately represent the strong effort of the Pride, who finished the match with 12 men following a send-off in the 57thminute.

In a wonderful celebration of the unique relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and rugby league, the Round 16 match between the Pride and Falcons opened with a traditional indigenous ceremony at Barlow Park in Cairns.

In the first weekend of Intrust Super Cup’s Indigenous Round a buoyant Pride came into the game off a win against the Hunters whilst the Falcons were aiming to bounce back following their first loss of the 2019 season to the Redcliffe Dolphins in round 15.

The game began with the Pride taking a leaf out of the Dolphins round 15 playbook, electing to kick for goal following an early penalty, which put the home side in the lead 2-0 after just three minutes.

It was not long before the Falcons hit back after the visitors found themselves in excellent attacking position just minutes later following an error from the Pride’s Shawn Bowen, who made contact with a Falcons kick in attempting to prevent it from going over the sideline.

In the resulting set it was a leaping Nat McGavin who snatched a Todd Murphy kick from the heavens to score the first points for the Falcons. Murphy’s conversion attempt was successful, and the score was 6-2 after 10 minutes.

Five minutes later the Falcons were over for their second try after former Pride player Darryn Schonig was the lucky recipient of a short ball from Harry Grant. In a welcome return to the fold, sharp shooter Murphy slotted the kick taking the score to 12-6.

The Pride made the most of their attacking opportunity at the opposite end of the field after second rower Tom Hancock scooped up a pinpoint kick from Pride half Brayden Torpy to score the Pride’s first try of the match. Jordan Biondi-Odo secured the extra two points to put the Pride back within striking distance at 12-8 after 23 minutes.

After the Pride failed to find touch from a penalty kick, the Falcons were back on the attack with hooker Grant wrongfooting everyone on his way to the line. Murphy hit the extra two and the score was 18-8 after 29 minutes.

Neither team managed to trouble the scorers again in the final ten minutes of the first half and the Pride went to the break within arm’s reach of the ladder leaders.

It was the Northern Pride who started the second half looking the better team, however it was the Falcons who were first to score after a break up the middle of the field from Lachlan Roe. It was also Roe who broke through the line again and scored two rucks later following an inside ball from Murphy. The score was 24-8 after 49 minutes.

Todd Murphy followed the same path as Roe in finding space up the middle just five minutes later before sending the ball out wide to Jon Reuben to score. The conversion further extended their lead 30-8, fifteen minutes into the second half.

There was some controversy in the 57th minute after Pride’s Terrance Casey-Douglas was sent off for a facial to a Falcon player’s face during a tackle and then an alleged headbutt after the play the ball.

The Pride barely had time to catch their breath as Harry Grant sold a dummy to Tom Hancock in the 62nd minute on his way to scoring a double. Murphy slotted the conversion and the score was 40-8 with 16 minutes left to play in the match.

Following a Pride dropped ball Jon Reuben secured his second try after a clever tap on from Siti Moceidreke, although this time Murphy was unsuccessful with the kick, taking the score to 40-8.

There was an injury scare for the Falcons in the latter stages of the match after hard-working prop Darryn Schonig left the field with suspected knee injury. Despite losing Schonig the visitors went on to score two more tries before the final bell.

The first came after Caleb Daunt found a hard-running Dane Hogan who celebrated his 50thgame for the Sunshine Coast side with a try in the 75th minute.

The final points came from a length of the field effort which handed fleet footed Falcons winger Reuben a hattrick. Murphy nailed the conversion taking the final score to 52-8.

Next week the Falcons will host the PNG Hunters at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Sunday 14th July, at 2:35pm.