At a little after 4:30pm yesterday afternoon Christian Welch crashed over for a try in the scoreboard corner at Suzuki Stadium and a few moments later a spine tingling chant of ‘Easts, Easts, Easts’ rolled across the ground as the Tigers faithful realised that their team was about to complete the unimaginable, their team was going to defeat the Townsville Blackhawks.
Townsville scored the final points of the game, a 78th minute try to centre Delouise Hoeter, to take the final score to 29-20 but the Tigers had clinched the seemingly inconceivable win.
The Tigers opened the scoring with a try to Billy Walters in the 7th minute. He ran to the left and while the Blackhawks slid and shut down his options out wide they forgot to pay enough attention to the man with the ball and he barged his way over. Walters was at it again in the 21st minute and along with a conversion he had given the Tigers a 10-0.
The Blackhawks had been struggling to get into the game in the first 25 minutes with the big Tigers pack out muscling them. The 32nd minute saw Tigers forward Dean Britt sent to the sin bin and the Blackhawks used the numerical advantage well to stretch the Tigers on the edges. Jonothan Reuben (in the 33rd minute) was the recipient of a perfectly timed cut out pass from the returning Matt Bowen and then Hoeter (in the 36th minute) took a flick pass from Lona Kaifoto, which, along with a conversion from Laybutt, took the halftime score to 10-10.
The teams went try for try in the second half with Dane Chang scoring for the Tigers, Moses Pangai then replied for the Blackhawks before Britt, who had been like a man on a mission since his return from the sin bin, and Welch scored for the Tigers. Walters slotted a penalty and Brodie Croft, showing maturity beyond his years for a man in only his second game at this level, calmly added a dropped goal to stretch the Tigers lead to 29-16. Hoeter scored his second try late in the game but it was all too late for a Blackhawks side that were beaten by a Tigers side than outclassed them in all aspects of the game.
Welch and Guy Hamilton were the Tigers best on the day while for the Blackhawks Matt Bowen showed promising signs in his first game back; setting up three of their four tries, Rhyse Martin was strong in both attack and defence and very nearly denied Dane Chang his try with a smashing cover tackle.
The Tigers face an equally tough test next weekend when they travel to Burleigh to take on a Bears side who will be angry after losing to the Dolphins. While the Blackhawks head home and will welcome a Devils outfit who will be flying high after defeating Tweed Head 46-18.
EASTS TIGERS 29 (Billy Walters 2, Dane Chang, Dean Britt, Christian Welch tries. Walters 4 goals. Croft field goal) def TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 20 (Delouise Hoeter 2, Jonathon Reuben, Moses Pangai tries. Kyle Laybutt 2 goals).
Easts 1.Guy Hamilton 2. Dane Chang 3.Shane Neumann 4. Jamie Anderson 5. Leon Ellia-Niukore 6. Billy Walters 7.Brodie Croft 8. Christian Welch 17.Slade Griffin 14. Matt White 11.Jake Foster 15.Francie Taulau 13. Dean Britt 9.Tommy Butterfield 10. Matt Zgrajewski 12. Dane Hogan 16. Mat Pitman
Townsville 1.Matt Bowen 2.Jonathon Reuben 3.Moses Pangai 4.Deloise Hoeter 5.Hezsron Murgha 6. Kyle Laybutt 7.Michael Parker-Walshe 8.Glenn Hall 9.Anthony Mitchell 10.Corey Jensen 11.Lona Kaifoto 12.Rhyse Martin 13.Lorenzo Maafu 14.Nathan Norford 15.Andrew Niemoeller 16.Brenden Santi 17.David Munro