By Matt Crowhurst
The pundits and the odds makers alike had the Redcliffe Dolphins as the clear favourites to beat the Easts Tigers on Saturday night at Suzuki Stadium. Given that the Dolphins started 2017 with two convincing wins and the Tigers only had a single point from their two games the Dolphins favouritism made some sense.
However, that would be to underestimate how well the Tigers have played in the opening rounds and how nicely they have been building. With a pack to rival any of the other packs in the competition, exciting halves and dynamic backs they were always going to click eventually.
It was the Dolphins who opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Thompson Teteh showed both his strength and skill. He received the pass with the defence and attacked both evenly numbered up and nothing no obvious gaps. He changed that though when he ran between two defenders and sent out a magical pass behind his back pass to Jonus Pearson. The Tigers defence had no time to react and Pearson dived over in the corner. Josh Beehag converted and the Dolphins had the early 6-0 lead.
The Tigers responded in the 28th minute when a great run by Billy Walters set up Linc Port. Walters got the ball 20 meters from the Redcliffe line and pirouetted, stepped and burst through the line, before slipping the ball to Port to finish clinically in the scoreboard corner. The conversion was waved away, however Walters had a chance to make amends when he slotted a 36th minute penalty to ensure the teams would go to the break locked up at 6 all.
Walters was the creator again in the 44th minute when a beautiful inside ball to hard running fullback Gerard McCullum saw him cross the line untouched. This is the kind of play you practise time and again on a Wednesday night and when it comes off it looks superb. Ten meters from the Redcliffe line and off the back of big runs from Matt Zgrajewski and Jack Svenson the defence were back peddling and had no chance to stop McCallum. Walters converted to take the Tigers back out to a 6-point lead.
The Dolphins responded with plenty heart in both attack and defence. Brandon Lee and Nathan Watts, off the bench, were both very impressive. As was Thompson Teteh who was punishing in defence and was always dangerous with ball in hand. One 25m break down the sideline in the second half showed exactly what he is capable of if he is given any space. He was the Dolphins best on the night.
It was Pearson who scored the Dolphins second try and Teteh who was again the provider. This duo has now scored five tries in two games between them. Sheldon Pitama took the ball from dummy half and passed to a hard running Troy Giess who bent the defence before slipping the pass to Teteh. Summing up the situation perfectly Teteh did not over think it and with no hesitation sent a ball to his flying winger to acrobatically score in the corner. The conversion was away again and the Tigers were clinging to a slender 12-10 lead.
It stayed that close for almost the entire second half till a 79th minute blindside play by the Tigers saw Connor Carey cross the chalk. On the last tackle and, with everyone expecting the kick, the ever alert Tom Butterfield sensed a gap to his right and a short sharp pass to Connor Carey allowed the centre to spear through and seal the game for the home side.
Carey was amongst the Tigers best all game, with his dangerous right foot step and burst of speed testing the defence a number of times. Billy Walters was also at the forefront of everything the Tigers did. While Matt Zgrajewski led from the front.
Next week the Dolphins return to Dolphin Oval to take on the Townsville Blackhawks while the Tigers are at home to the Northern Pride on the Channel 9 TV game.
A WORD FROM THE TIGERS COACH SCOTT SIPPLE
“We showed resilience and toughness in the second half and kept turning up and turning up for each other. We haven’t been far away the last two weeks and it was good to see the attitude paying off.”
EASTS TIGERS 18
Tries: Linc Port (28m), Gerard McCallum (44m), Conor Carey (79m)
Goals: Billy Walters 2 Conv, 1 Pen
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 10
Tries: Jonus Pearson (15m), Jonus Pearson (52m)
Goals: Josh Beehag 1 Conv
There are few easy games in the Intrust Super Cup and this weekend the Easts Tigers face another very tough game. After opening their season at the Falcons and then last weekend undertaking the competitions toughest away trip, to PNG, the Tigers will be looking forward to getting home to Suzuki Stadium. However, there to greet them will be premiership favourites the Redcliffe Dolphins.
Saturday night games at Suzuki Stadium often attract a crowd and the Tigers players will be hoping a big crowd of the true believers turn up to cheer them on.
Whilst the Tigers have only a solitary point to show for their efforts this season the Dolphins are two wins from two starts, having dismantled the reigning premiers in Round 1 and comfortably accounting for the Capras last weekend.
The Tigers will be pleased with their second half effort in PNG where they outscored the Hunters four tries to two. Veteran centre Shane Neumann played his first game of the season and opened his try scoring account. While his centre partner, talented new boy Conor Carey, notched a late double. The Tigers will be looking to build on the positive end to the game and to bring that momentum in to this game.
The Dolphins are powerful on the left with Thompson Teteh and Jonus Pearson striking up a power try scoring combination (they scored three tries between themselves last weekend) and they will need to be watched. The Tigers have plenty to offer out wide to though, especially if captain Jake Foster can get his running game going and can link with his centre.
This should be a close and exciting game, and possibly high scoring. I expect the Tigers too win.
Odds: Tigers $2.75, Dolphins $1.45
Tigers by 4.
1. Gerard McCullum 2. Jarrod McInally 3. Shane Neumann 4. Conor Carey 5. Linc Port 6. Billy Walters 7. Brodie Croft 8. David Murphy 9. Tommy Butterfield 10. Matt Zgrajewski 11. Jake Foster (c) 12. Dean Britt 13. Jack Svendsen 14. Steven Thorpe 15. Charlie Galo 16. Luke Lavelle 17. Scott Drinkwater 18. Adam Crear
Coach: Scott Sipple
1. Jack Ahearn 2. Joshua Beehag 3. Thompson Teteh 4. Aaron Whitchurch 5. Jonus Pearson 6. Zach Strasser 7. Christian Hazard 18. Matthew Lodge 9. Sheldon Pitama 10. Nicholas Slyney 11. Brandon Lee 12. Troy Giess 13. Sam Anderson (c) 14. Rulon Nutira 15. Tyson Cleal 16. Nathan Watts 17. Samson Graham
Coach: Adam Mogg
Redcliffe Dolphins 28 Easts Tigers 26
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