The Tigers and Dolphins fronted up at Langlands Park yesterday with two very different agendas; for the Tigers it was about reaffirming their pedigree as a top two side, while for the Dolphins, it was about keeping their season alive.
Eighty minutes and 68 points later, the Tigers sit secure in second spot on the Intrust Super Cup ladder following their 52-16 win while the Dolphins, can begin planning their end of season trip.
The Tiger TV Man of the Match was East halfback Liam Tyson who guided the team sublimely and is looking a more assured and complete footballer with every game he plays in the top grade.
Another player who had an excellent day was fullback Cameron Munster, who capped an outstanding all-round performance with possibly the try of the day late in the second half. Hooker Tom Butterfield slipped passed the Redcliffe markers and shot off down field before linking with Foisa Peni. Peni made 20m before standing in the tackle and holding three Redcliffe defenders at bay. Eventually he passed to Munster, who despite receiving the ball surrounded by defenders, made another 10m before putting up an audacious chip and chase which he regathered, in traffic, to score under the posts.
Butterfield put in a Herculean 73 minute, two try effort against his former club in what was a near man of the match performance. Peni was nearly back to his wrecking-ball best. Not only can he bust the line and scatter defenders at will, but he has a remarkable ability, for such a big man, to slip out a deft offload.
Other players to impress for the Tigers were prop Felise Kaufusi, who seems to be in the Tigers top three or four players every week and interchange forward Liam McDonald who never fails to make an impact.
It was not all bad for the Dolphins, with Oliver Regan scoring two lovely tries and showing what he can do when given good ball.
Redcliffe have a group of very talented outside backs in Regan, Liam Georgetown, Marty Hatfield and Aaron Whitchurch, however even the best back in the world will struggle to make an impact if they are not getting quality ball.
That was the problem on Sunday, the Redcliffe outside backs were simply starved of possession. Redcliffe have showed they can score plenty of tries this season, they have just lost their mojo at the moment.
They did not create enough opportunities for themselves and squandered half of the ones they created through poor handling.
In the Redcliffe forwards, Tyson Cleal was outstanding and showed the way forward. If the Redcliffe forwards can get the team rolling forward they have the halves and outside backs to win games, they just need to get that roll on happening.
One area that will be of particular concern for Redcliffe coach Troy Lindsay is the play the ball area. They were consistently penalised for holding the tackled player down too long. You can ill afford to give any team in this league as many opportunities as the Dolphins gave the Tigers on Sunday.
Adrian Davis has been outstanding for Redcliffe this season; however he was largely a passenger on Sunday as a very astute Jacob Fauid kicking game saw him denied the ball. Fauid predominately kicked for open space and three times in the first half a good kick, paired with a great chase, resulted in Redcliffe being trapped in goal. When Fauid did kick high he went mainly to the wings, I can only remember Davis receiving the ball on the full on two or three occasions. The theory that Davis would benefit from the extra time and space available at fullback to weave his attacking magic was a good one, he was just not given the opportunity by Easts. There is an old adage in rugby league ‘you don’t weaken one position to strengthen another’ and there will doubtless be plenty of talk at Dolphin Oval this week as to whether Davis’s best position is fullback or halfback.
This is the performance the Tigers faithful have been waiting for. After a month of gutsy away wins, off perhaps not their best football, the Tigers reminded everyone exactly what they are capable of. A near capacity crowd at Tapout Energy Stadium, watching under a beautiful blue sky went home very happy.
Both teams are back at their respective home grounds next Sunday, Easts hosts the Ipswich Jets while the Dolphins will look for a win over the Mackay Cutters.
EASTS TIGERS 52 (Jarrod McInally 3, Cameron Munster 2, Tom Butterfield 2, Shane Neumann, Dane Chang tries; Liam Tyson 8 goals) def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 16 (Oliver Regan 2, Aaron Whitchurch tries; Adrian Davis 2 goals) at Langlands Park.
1. Cameron Munster 2. Jarrod McInally 3. Hymel Hunt 4. Shane Neumann 5. Dane Chang 6. Jacob Fauid 7. Liam Tyson 8. Steven Thorpe (c) 9. Tom Butterfield 10. Felise Kaufusi 11. Dane Hogan 12. Troy Giess 13. Foisa Peni 14. Liam McDonald 15. Mitch Garbutt 16. Matthew Zgrajewski 17. Geoff Holcombe
1. Adrian Davis 2. Oliver Regan 3. Aaron Whitchurch 4. Marty Hatfield (c) 5. Liam Georgetown 6. Zach Strasser 7. Cameron Cullen 8. Tyson Cleal 9. Hayden Hansen 10. Jon Green (c) 11. Nick Ritter 12. Constantine Mika 13. Tom Geraghty 14. Chris Fox 15. Joe Bradley 16. James Crombie 17. Martin Cordwell