Round 1 proved to be as tough a battle as Coach Kristian Woolf expected with the home side only getting their noses in front twice during the match, for a brief few minutes before half time and then finally when it counted at the end of the match. The Blackhawks scored 4 tries to the Dolphins 3 but missed three of their four conversions to take the final score to 18-16.
The Dolphins lead the way for much of the match in what was a hard fought battle in oppressive conditions following some heavy rain overnight in Townsville, however it was the home side who scored the first points with a flying Samsen O’Neill crossing the line for the first of his two tries in the sixth minute.
The visitors hit back halfway through the first half via Zach Stasser to take the lead 6-4. Dolphins halves pairing Strasser and Darren Nicholls were impressive throughout the match with Strasser scoring twice and both players steering their side around the paddock with intent.
With eight players making their first appearances for the club, the Blackhawks battled hard up the middle to get back on the scoreboard with special performances coming from both the young debutants and the old hands. The hard work from the engine room lead to O’Neill scoring his second just before half time to take the lead briefly before Strasser brought up his own double to send the Dolphins to the break with a 12-8 lead.
The home side hit the field with renewed vigour in the second half which saw an elusive Jahrome Hughes cross the line just 1 minute into the half levelling scores at 12-12. Hughes was hit with some heavy defense at the back throughout the match but his kick return was exceptional and led to more than one line break for the Blackhawks.
Scores remained deadlocked for much of the intense second half until the pressure of the consecutive sets finally broke the Dolphins and a hard running Sam Hoare stormed over the line to score under the posts after a spectacular Nathan Norford pass. The Dolphins hit back with four minutes remaining in the match but were unable to convert leaving the final score at 18-16.
It was far from a clinical performance but the positive result came from the Blackhawks typical never say die attitude and willingness to play until the final whistle. Coach Woolf was impressed with the team’s ability to dig deep, “While it wasn’t our prettiest win, it was certainly one of our grittiest and typified what we are about as a club.”
“Redcliffe are a very good and experienced football side and with the number of young and less experienced players we on the field we will certainly both learn and improve a lot from that performance.” He said following the match.
Blackhawks 18 (Tries: Samsen O’Neill, Jahrome Hughes, Sam Hoare. Conversions: Sam Foster) defeated Dolphins 16 (Tries: Zach Strasser (2), Jonus Pearson. Conversions: Darren Nicholls(2))
It was an great day all around for Townsville Blackhawks fans as the the Cyril Connell Cup and Mal Meninga sides both came away with wins from their first round matches against the Northern Pride.
The Townsville Blackhawks Cyril Connell side took an early lead before fighting off a fast finishing Pride to take a narrow 24-22 win in the final minutes in the first match of the day at Jack Manski Oval with two tries each from Jacson Lott and McKenzie Baker.
The Townsville Blackhawks Mal Meninga side sent out an early warning to the rest of the competition racing to a 22-0 lead at half time and backing that up with an equally impressive second half to take the match 50-6. The outside backs were especially dominant scoring all 10 Tries – Enari Tuala (2), Kurt Wiltshire (2), Michael Carroll (4), Samuel Martin and Marshall Hudson.