The Sunshine Coast Falcons march on in the 2017 Intrust Super Cup final series at the expense of the Souths Logan Magpies after victory in the first Elimination Final on Sunday afternoon.
They held the upper hand for most of the match leading 16-0 at half time and scoring first after half time to lead 22-0, until Souths Logan Magpies staged a spirited comeback in the second half, and looked like they may even pinch the game late on.
A late Falcons try sealed the game for the home side and the fate of the Magpies who have made progress in 2017 by making the top 6 after just missing out on finals in 2016.
KICKING GAME CRUCIAL IN WINDY CONDITIONS
The windy conditions on the Sunshine Coast made the kicking game of each side very important, and the Falcons executed theirs much better than the Magpies, which explains why the Falcons had a large chunk of the ball, territory, and all of the points in the first half.
Sunshine Coast seemed to be virtually camped in the Magpies half for most of the first half, and the kicking game, along with some handy penalties assisted them greatly. The Magpies did well to hang on, and reading below had chance to really open up the game after weathering most of the storm.
Souths Logan’s kicking game took a long time to get right, and it did improve in the second half when they had the advantage of the wind. That coincided with their come back on the scoreboard.
NEEDLESS PENALTY COST A TRY AND POSSBILY A MAGPIES WIN
Souths Logan Magpies were under tremendous pressure for most of the first half, and some determined defence and stunning one on one hits had slowed the Falcons down to a just a 10-0 lead despite having a large chunk of the ball and territory.
Eventually the Magpies got some ball, and on the back of back to back penalties they attacked the Falcons line in the 33rd minute and looked a lot better than the disjointed attack that had prevailed in the preceding minutes.
The pressure told on the Falcons and hooker Travis Waddell crashed over from dummy half from just a metre out. The on field referee went to the video referee to confirm his try decision, however the video picked up what the Falcons were trying to point out that Souths Logan prop AJ Tuimavave had held back one of the Falcons defenders.
The try was disallowed, and it was a little silly as the Sunshine Coast defender was very unlikely to stop the try anyway given the force of Travis Waddell.
As things always seem to go, a potential 10-6 score line turned into a 16-0 deficit as the Falcons went up the other end, got a repeat set and scored on the second asking. Given how close the Magpies got in the end, a moment of silliness may have cost them the game.
FULLBACKS OFFERED PLENTY FOR BOTH SIDES
The match featured the Intrust Super Cup’s fullback of the year in Souths Logan’s Jamayne Isaako. The Falcons custodian was Guy Hamilton who has been one of the Sunshine Coast’s best this season, but usually in the halfback position in the absence of Ryley Jacks.
Broncos fringe player Isaako showed why he was named the number 1 number 1 throughout the game, a key moment was in the first half where he made a terrific tackle to stop a certain runaway Falcons try, shutting down the runner who could have passed for the Falcons to score. A few plays later he did it again.
Guy Hamilton was also great for the Falcons, providing a genuine third ball player for the Sunshine Coast from the back. He scored the crucial try on half time and was involved in a lot of the good stuff from the home side.
The worry for the Falcons is where he plays if Jahrome Hughes comes back to assume his number 1 spot. With Scott Drinkwater and Ryley Jacks going well in the halves, the bench may await.
Both have also been great goal kickers for their clubs in 2017 too.
DID THE FALCONS GET AWAY WITH IT AFTER CRUCIAL LATE CALL
It took the Magpies a long time, but they eventually got on the board with a try to Sam Lavea in the 64th minute. That try sparked the Magpies into life, and the game into a tense period as Souths Logan turned up the pressure for their last 15 minutes of the season.
Two more tries came in the 67th and 73rd minutes, and the Falcons looked more than a little worried.
With three minutes to go the Magpies put up a kick for the Falcons to field right under the posts, and it looked a regulation catch which resulted in a 20m restart for the home side. But upon further examination it appeared that the ball was dropped in the in goal. If it was the case and seen, the result would have been a Falcons drop out and another set of six for Souths Logan.
Of course the Sunshine Coast went up the other end and broke the Magpies hearts and finished their season as Christopher Lewis scored in the corner and the game was out of reach. But it may well have been a different story.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 26
Tries: Matthew Soper-Lawler (7m), Ryley Jacks (17m), Guy Hamilton (39m), Scott Drinkwater (44m), Christopher Lewis (77m)
Goals: Guy Hamilton 3/5 Conv
SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES 18
Tries: Sam Lavea (64m), Travis Waddell (67m), Sam Scarlett (73m)
Goals: Jamayne Isaako 3/3 Conv
Half Time: Sunshine Coast 16 Souths Logan Magpies 0