That most famous of bunnies visited Tapout Energy Stadium on Easter Sunday and delivered Easts Tigers fans exactly what they wanted, a dominated performance from a team that tackled everything in sight, maintained their structures well and scored 52 unanswered points.
Going into the game, which is traditionally one of the Intrust Super Cups fiercer local rivalries, no one could have been predicted the one sided affair that eventuated. Magpies coach Josh Hannay shuffled his line-up just before kick-off to have two of his most experienced players, Phil Dennis and Sam Gardel starting. For the opening twenty minutes his charges played well, they kept the ball in the forwards, made good metres and with Phil Dennis guiding proceedings from halfback asked some questions of the Tigers defence. However they simply did not have the finesse to compete with a sublime Tigers outfit.
The Tigers scored tries to Shaun Nona, in the 10th minute and Cameron Munster in the 25th minute, Nona converted both and the score was quickly out to 12 nil. At this point the Magpies seemed to lose their focus and attention to detail. They were still attacking and the sinbinning of Tigers prop Dean Britt seemed to have open the door for them to launch a comeback.
However it was not too be, the Tigers were just too clinical with both Donald Malone and Tommy Butterfield capping superb first half performances with well deserved tries. The Tom Butterfield try would have been particularly painful for the Magpies who were on the Tigers line and launching their best attacking raid of the game before a string of handling errors and penalties saw the Tigers roll ninety five metres to score. Butterfield chased a perfectly positioned Shaun Nona grubber between the posts and with a lovely rolling dive touched the ball down an inch from the dead ball line. This was the definition of a twelve point turn around and must have be an absolute heart breaker for the Magpies, especially as they still had a one man advantage.
Whatever Josh Hannay said to his men at halftime did not have the desired effect as Shane Neumann showed just what a gifted athlete he is to score with only four minutes gone in the half. Any resolve the Magpies may have brought with them from the sheds seemed to dissipate at that point and in truth they never looked like troubling the Tigers again.
The second half was, quite literally, one way traffic as Matt Duffie, Cameron Munster (twice), Shaun Nona and Richie Kennar all scored tried as the Tigers ran riot. Munster’s second try perhaps summed up Souths Logan’s day; as fullback Josh Damen, in trying to clean up a bouncing ball in goal quite literally ran straight over the top of the ball and left it sitting on the ground for whichever Tiger arrived first to pounce on.
While the tries were great for the Tigers undoubtedly the most pleasing aspect was zero on the Magpies side of the equation. Coach Craig Ingebrigsten said that he was;
“Really happy with our on line defence today, our shape and line speed. All of the things you practise at training worked well today”
The Tigers never looked like clocking off in defence and for a team that prides itself on its defence the return to form is this area was one of the highlights of the day.
Cameron Munster was the XXXX Man of the Match and that is hard to argue with, considering he scored three tries. One run, a thirty metre swerving effort down the grandstand touchline was full of fends and sidesteps and would have made any NRL centre proud.
However this was a real team effort for the Tigers, as Coach Ingebrigsten noted;
“Everyone knew their role today and performed what we asked of them, I am very proud of how we performed as a unit”
New boys Shaun Nona and Jake Foster had their best games in Tigers colours. Nona was back to his best, running with ball in hand and showing the kind of form he showed for the Pride last season. Both setting up and scoring tries he had a hand in many of the Tigers points.
Jake Foster was another who showed exactly why he is so highly regarded and why he was chased by so many clubs this season. He possesses deft hands and when he runs with the ball in hand he forces the defence to make decisions about how they deal with him. More often than not they decide to compress the defence and commit two men to him. At which point he has the skills to keep the ball alive and get out a pass to a support runner. Twice on Sunday this led directly to Tigers tries – to Donald Malone and then right before fulltime to Richie Kennar.
Donald Malone, after a brief sojourn in the BRL, returned to Intrust Super Cup with a masterful display of running attacking rugby league from fullback.
The Tigers have some pleasing combinations starting to emerge. Troy Giess and Cameron Munster are starting to develop a nice partnership down the Tigers left edge, which looked even more dangerous when Donald Malone chimed in from fullback. Dane Hogan and Shane Neumann have a similarly dangerous combination emerging on the right hand side.
The Tigers forwards were again superb and, as they did against the PNG Hunters a few weeks ago, simply did not allow the Souths Logan pack any easy yards, Christian Welch, Liam McDonald, Dean Britt and Francis Taulau all contributed mightily.
This was the performance the Tigers needed as they prepare for a much sterner challenge next week as they travel to Burleigh to face a Bears outfit that have now won three games straight after this weekend’s defeat of Redcliffe.
The Magpies are a better team than this result indicates, they showed in Round Two, when they defeated the Capras 48-12 and in Round Four against a very good Wynnum side (a battling 38-20 loss) what they are capable of. For whatever reason they simply did not ‘show up’ mentally against the Tigers and Josh Hannay will be working hard this week to turn his players’ attitude around. Phil Dennis was the Magpies best on the day; he tried everything in his bag of tricks and along with Sam Gardel, Zac Lemberg and Travis Waddell can hold his head up high.
Things do not get any easier for the Magpies who have only seven days to turn things around before they face the daunting prospect of meeting the undefeated Townsville Blackhawks at Davies
EASTS TIGERS 52 (Cameron Munster 3, Shaun Nona 2, Matt Duffie, Richie Kennar, Shane Neumann, Donald Malone, Tommy Butterfield tries; Shaun Nona 6 goals) def SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES 0 at Tapout Energy Stadium
Easts Tigers: 1. Matt Duffie 2. Richie Kennar 3. Shane Neumann 4. Cameron Munster 5. Donald Malone 6. Shaun Nona 7. Joel Romelo 8. Dean Britt 9. Tommy Butterfield 10. Liam McDonald 11. Dane Hogan 12. Foisa Peni 13. Troy Giess 14. Christian Welch 15. Francis Tualau 18. Matthew Zgrajewski 16. Jake Foster
Souths Logan Magpies: 1. Josh Damen 2. Samisoni Vaioleti 18. Aotealofa Tuimavave 4. Tim Brooks 5. Matt Trnka 6. Dylan Taikato-Simpson 7. Travis Waddell 8. Andrew Edwards 9. Herschel Gideon 10. Zac Lemberg 11. Scott Doyle 12. Kailem Perkins 13. Simanu Crichton 14. Phil Dennis 15. Sam Gardel 16. Graham Levu 17. David Faamita