The Townsville Blackhawks have snatched a narrow victory from the hands of a surging Sunshine Coast Falcons outfit in a tight affair at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Match: Falcons v Blackhawks
Round 11 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
At the risk of bringing out an old cliché, it really was a tale of two halves as far as the home side were concerned.
While both teams made easy metres up the middle, Townsville were the only team able to capitalise on this in the first half.
As the Falcons strive for some consistency at the half-way point of the competition, coach Sam Mawhinney selected a relatively untested right-side combination of Gary Anderson and Paul Ulburg, and it became clear that the pair was identified as a target for the Blackhawks.
The visitors continued to pepper the right edge, which also included halfback Todd Murphy, with a barrage of unrelenting running attack.
Eventually, the defensive structures broke down and the Blackhawks scored twice in 10 minutes - first through their centre Bacho Salam, who poked his nose through about 10 metres out and had enough strength to carry a couple of defenders over the line.
The visitors second try came through their experienced fullback Jaelen Feeney, who came sweeping around the back of a nicely timed backline move and crossed the stripe in the 22nd minute.
The remaining 18 minutes of the first half were underwhelming from both sides.
Murphy played a more dominant role to close out the half, but due to some poor last tackle options, wasn’t able to get his team on the board.
The teams headed into the sheds with a 10-0 score line in favour of the visiting Blackhawks, but it wasn't a furphy about it being a tale of two halves.
Whatever Mawhinney said to his Falcons team at half-time clearly did the job, and the Falcons came out of the gates with gusto.
Murphy’s end-of-set options were much improved, his halves partner Cooper Johns really stepped up his involvement and while contributing with the boot, was also more than willing to test the opposition defence with his running game.
Even more impressive with their running game, was super-sub Louis Geraghty coming into the second row position off the bench. He was subbed on at the break and from the moment he got on the field, was in the thick of it.
Through his strong running game close to the line and his desperation in chasing a loose kick, he found himself on the scoresheet twice in five minutes, bagging himself a second-half double.
The home side fullback Luke Polselli was outstanding in a beaten side today, and through his footwork and strength, broke through the Blackhawks right-side defence and crossed for the try in the 57th minute that would see the Falcons hit the lead for the first time of the afternoon.
At 16-10, the Falcons looked in control and ready to close out the game, clinching what would have been their first home victory since Round 6; but the Blackhawks had other plans.
First, they scored on the Falcons left side, getting to within two points of a tied game, before they returned to the right-edge, where once again the home side were too passive and Feeney was the man on the spot, backing up on the inside to ice the final scoring play of the game.
A play which ultimately gave the Blackhawks back a lead, a lead which they held until the final buzzer sounded.
The Falcons will be lamenting the loss, as a win today would have seen them jump up into the top eight; while the Blackhawks, depending on other results, may finish the round as high as sixth.
The Falcons will now prepare to travel to Ipswich next round in a fortnight.
Match: Jets v Falcons
Round 12 -
Venue: North Ipswich Reserve, Ipswich
The Blackhawks will play host to the red-hot Norths Devils, who earlier today posted their 10th win from 11 starts this season.
Match: Blackhawks v Devils
Round 12 -
Venue: Jack Manski Oval, Townsville