An intercept try in the last quarter fittingly capped off Sunnybank’s turbulent 20-19 victory over Easts in round four of the Queensland Premier Rugby on Saturday, seeing the Dragons draw level with the fourth-ranked Tigers on the competition ladder.
After Easts usurped fourth spot from Sunnybank last week, the talented line-ups promised an entertaining affair and there proved little to separate the two sides as they swapped the lead from the kick off, but it was the Dragons that managed to win possession during the scrappy encounter to clinch the important one-point win.
With Easts picking up a bonus point for the tight deficit, Sunnybank’s win puts them on eleven points apiece for the season as they continue to grapple for a spot in the critical top four of the competition.
After Peter Lee’s intercept try for Sunnybank levelled the count at three tries apiece with 20 minutes to go as the tight contest continued to apply pressure to the error count, the Dragons held off the famed Easts attack in what coach Rod Seib conceded was a lucky break.
“This week when it’s 20-19 and we ended up with that intercept try there we’ve got to concede that we were pretty lucky to get away with the points,” Seib said.
“When we did have possession we perhaps got over the game line reasonably well, but in saying that I think both teams will be a little bit disappointed in our performances and certainly want to improve if we want to progress in the competition.”
The Tigers weren’t without chances in the game, missing two penalty chances in the second half and pressuring the Sunnybank line, but coach Pat Richards said in the end the team didn’t come together to produce the extra points.
“We just didn’t have the urgency when it was needed and we were indecisive when we had the ball,” Richards said.
“We’re disappointed… we played as 15 individuals I think.”
While Easts opened the account with an early try, it was Sunnybank who claimed momentum , scoring back to back tries in the 17th minute to extend a 15-7 lead when solid running from Rex Tapuai put Shane Seiuli over on the left wing before Ed Langi powered under the crossbar.
Battling to swing the tide, the Tigers finally managed to convert pressure into points three minutes before half-time, catching a napping Sunnybank defence with a pick and drive to take a narrow one-point deficit into the break.
Both teams missed chances early in the second half as they battled to gain the upperhand in the match, but it was the Tigers who broke the deadlock when number eight Jarrad Butler secured his second try of the day after a solid offensive set to take a 19-15 lead with 25 minutes remaining.
But, a determined Sunnybank side held the possession in Easts’ half before a burst of speed from winger Lee converted the crucial final try in the 62nd minute and despite Dion Taumata’s sprayed conversion attempt, the Dragons were able to close out the victory.
The Tigers have had a mixed start to the season with an even two wins and two losses, and Richards said if they get their basics working they’ll be able to threaten the competition’s front-runners.
“This is probably a fair indication of where we are. We’re just away from getting where we want to be,” Richards said.
“We just need to get back to the basics; get our basic set piece right, our exits, our breakdown and our defence—just all the basic techniques. We’ll leave the rest to the game.”
The injury woes continued for the Dragons on Saturday with handy number eight Siologa Leota stretchered from the field at half-time with a knee injury after already missing St.George Reds prop Albert Anae to a broken arm and scrumhalf Danny Tusitala.
“It’s yet to be fully diagnosed, but it’s one that if he is unavailable he will be a big loss,” Seib said, “He’s a good honest player; someone who plays fantastic in defence and attack. So, he’ll be sorely missed if he has to sit on the sideline.”
While the initial assessment isn’t promising, Leota will undergo scans to determine the extent of the injury.
Sunnybank 20 (Shane Seiuli, Edward Langi, Peter Lee, tries; Dion Taumata pen con) def Easts 19 (Jarrad Butler 2, Eli Mowen, tries; Matt Brandon 2 con)
By Amy Price