The Sunshine Coast Falcons have kicked off their 2021 season with a disappointing loss to the Northern Pride at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Under lights, and in wet and greasy conditions, the game was hampered by errors from both teams, making it a challenge for either side to build momentum for anything more than a few minutes at a time.
Match: Falcons v Pride
Round 1 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
An injury to the Falcons centre Jack Howarth saw a back line shuffle on the Falcons left side within the first few minutes of the match.
The Falcons struck first through the boot of Cooper Johns, who finessed a well weighted bomb in the corner for crowd-favourite Nat McGavin, taking the ball in the air and grounding it to score the season opener.
Sadly, that would be the last time five-eighth/winger combination would bear fruit, with points proving hard to come by from then on.
In attack, the Falcons struggled in transition, attempting to shift early ball from left to right a number of times, but due to poor execution, the ball rarely found its target, with several passes finding the grass instead.
By the mid-point of the first half, Falcons’ errors had provided the Pride with multiple opportunities to attack the Falcons line.
Those opportunities were well and truly seized upon by the Pride, who piled on three unanswered first half tries to go into half time leading 18-6.
In defence, the Falcons forwards were gutsy.
On a wet track, the compounding effect of repeat defensive sets took its toll, with the Pride’s mobile middle-men finding space around the ruck, and able to slip through the grasp of some tired Falcons defenders on a number of occasions.
After the Pride scored the second half opener, the Falcons closed the gap with just under half an hour to go.
As the rain got heavier during the second half, tempers flared, and an all-in ‘pushathon’ broke out, setting the tone for what would be a tense finish to the game, with poor discipline from both teams leading to a rush of late penalties.
Jarrod Mullen looked comfortable in his Cup debut coming off the bench, in a somewhat unfamiliar ball playing lock position, but unfortunately, the Falcons were not able to pressure the Pride, or the scoreboard.
Finally, the Pride closed out the game with a 76th minute try to Wiremu Greig, who became an instant cult hero off the back of his strong Maori All Stars performance in February.
Greig had an impressive game and, along with making a whole stack of tackles, bagged himself a double, crossing for the first and last tries of the game.
In a losing side, Trent Loiero was awarded the Falcons man of the match; Loiero was a workhorse, putting his hand up and getting through a mountain of work in both attack and defence.
At the post game function, Falcons coach Sam Mahwinney attributed the loss to the high error count, ‘It’s hard to win games when you drop that much ball’.
In what was a challenging game for both teams due to the wet and gloomy conditions, the final result of 28-12 was a fair reflection of the game.
With injuries to both Howarth (hamstring) and Mullen (dislocated shoulder), the Falcons will be forced to make changes to their starting 17 as they prepare to travel to Davies Park for next week’s match against the Souths Logan Magpies.
Match: Magpies v Falcons
Round 2 -
Venue: Bishop Park, Brisbane
Pride will take on Central Queensland Capras in Round 2.
Match: Capras v Pride
Round 2 -
Venue: Browne Park, Rockhampton