The Sunshine Coast Falcons have snuck into the top eight after rallying late to overcome a determined Central Queensland Capras outfit 24-22 at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
With the Northern Pride and the Falcons in a tussle for eighth position and the Pride narrowly going down 24-20 to the Burleigh Bears yesterday, the Falcons were left with everything to play for when they faced up against a Capras side desperate to avoid a last-placed finish.
Match: Falcons v Capras
Round 17 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
The Capras were left to rue their inaccuracy with the kicking tee, with only one of their five tries successfully converted as the Falcons finished strong to steal the win at the death.
The Capras started brightly with a try to young five-eighth Raeden Robinson in the ninth minute giving them the perfect start.
The Falcons showed some great resilience and scrambling defence to deny the Capras continuous battering of their try line, but eventually were found unstuck, when hooker Trey Browne fooled the markers and burrowed over from close range in the 15th minute.
The Capras physicality wasn’t relenting and they continued to keep the Falcons on the back foot through the middle third of the field, with their damaging runs allowing them to march upfield with relative ease.
Browne took full advantage of the momentum when he opted for the crash play on tackle five, which saw Tyler Szepanowski crash over under the posts to extend the Capras lead to 14-0 in the 20th minute.
The Falcons managed to finally get their first points of the afternoon when Nathan Saumalu planted down a well-weighted Todd Murphy grubber just shy of the dead-ball line.
The home side would only go into halftime two points down when Tom Rafter made it back-to-back Falcons tries after pouncing on yet another Murphy grubber just shy of the break.
After the break, Capras winger Jedidiah Simbiken scored in the corner to make it six tries in as many games for the 22-year old.
The Falcons then looked to have exposed the Capras left-edge defence, only for Daniel Dole’s pass to instead land in the hands of young centre Brandon Roberts who raced away to score in the 57th minute.
Trailing by 10-points with only 12 minutes left, it was none other than Falcons skipper Murphy who capped off an already strong performance with a try of his own, throwing a dummy and reaching out to keep their finals hopes alive.
It became clear that the Capras were beginning to tire and the Falcons were quick to up the ante in the dying stages.
A towering bomb caused all sorts of problems for Capras fullback Jake Mazien, with the bouncing ball hitting the post and bouncing back into the direction of Luke Polselli who planted it down, with the conversion giving the Falcons a two-point lead with five minutes remaining.
Falcons v Capras - Luke Polselli Try - 75 min
The Capras failed to get the ball back from the short dropout and matters were soon made worse when Caleb Tull was sent off after rushing out of the line and collecting Wyatt Reynolds high.
Falcons coach Sam Mawhinney said he was pleased with his side’s ability to overcome any adversity thrown their way and find a way to get the result.
“It was certainly heart attack stuff, but was pretty important for us, so happy with how the boys hung in there and found a way in the end,” Mawhinney said.
On a day where the club celebrated its life members and three retiring players, the Falcons coach said he hoped the tough games like today would put his side in good stead come finals next week.
“Since the COVID break, we have had three pretty tough games and the Capras have fought all year and showed a lot of tenacity, so hopefully it will put us in good stead for next week,” Mawhinney said.
For the Capras, the match summed up their season where they fought hard and were in most games, but just did not have the experience to ice games to win.
Outgoing coach Guy Williams however was confident the side had a bright future ahead with plenty of young and talented players to build with.